cracked phoneMy new year literally started with a bang! On December 31st, my phone leaped out of my hand in an apparent dive of depression.

I picked it up immediately, not really expecting anything to be wrong. It had fallen on a carpeted floor, and I’d dropped it several times before without damage.

Well, this time was different. As soon as I turned it face-up and saw the Spiderman-strand cracks across the whole screen, my heart sank. It still works, but in a rather unusable way.

Anyways, I’m not here to whine and get sympathy. (Well, maybe a little.)

This accident actually taught me something, and right on time for the new year. First of all, don’t rely on yesterday’s plans or experiences too much. Today, things might just be different, and in fact probably will be. We need to go along day by day, being open to the new things God might bring into our lives, or we could find ourselves surprised and unprepared.

boy with phoneSecond, this taught me that in life, stuff happens. Life is by definition moving and changing. Maybe our Father allows these things because, in His wisdom, He knows they will make us better. We must never get discouraged when rough stuff is thrust into our face. Maybe we’ll overcome it in a glorious victory and see just how amazing our God is. Or maybe we’ll get hit hard by it, barely able to get up, feeling like we must have handled it wrong, and still see just how amazing our God is! Our future is sure and our help is constant.

So even if I’m seeing through a “glass unclearly” right now, I know for sure that “it will all be right at last.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Story courtesy of Activated magazine. Image 1 designed by macrovector/Freepik; Image 2 designed by Freepik.

A Spiritual Exercise: Day By Day

day by dayLife is often pictured as a journey. Step by step, day by day, we travel along a road that is uniquely ours. Although we sometimes share our joys and griefs with others we meet along the way, nobody else’s journey is exactly the same.

The one thing that we do have in common, however, is the possibility of a life companion and counselor who will be with us each moment. God says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” and “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.”1

If you look back at your journey through the past year, particularly times when you struggled, you can probably recognize situations that could have played out better had you prayed for guidance and followed the path that God indicated. But don’t worry! It’s a new year, fresh with new possibilities.

Take a few minutes to think about your daily routine. Perhaps you could start a prayer diary, or make a plan to read through the book of Psalms or the Gospels, or take five minutes when you wake up or before you go to sleep to think about the good things in your life and thank God for them. Whatever you decide, make it a resolution and stick with it, for you have “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”2day by day 2

1. Jeremiah 33:3 NIV; Psalm 32:8
2. Proverbs 18:24

Text adapted from Activated magazine. Used by permission. Art © TFI.

A Spiritual Exercise: Past and Future

New Year Activity for children

The New Year is a great time to take stock of the past year and set goals for the next. Here’s a spiritual exercise to that end.

Begin by lighting a large candle, which represents Jesus, the light of the world. Read and think about these verses from the Bible:

“I [Jesus] am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28)

Use the big candle to light the small candle, representing you.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the past year. Take into consideration these three areas of your life: your studies, your home life and relationships with family and friends, and your personal life.

What in the past year, in each of those areas, are you most thankful for? You might have many things in each area. Thank God for them. You may want to jot them down for future reference.

Then take a few more minutes to reflect on the coming year. In terms of those three areas of your life, what are your prayers or aspirations for the coming year? Write those things down, either as a personal prayer or in point form, so you will have them to refer to as the year progresses and be reminded to thank God as He answers your prayers.

With a few simple modifications, this exercise can also be done with family or friends:

Light the large candle, read the Bible verses aloud, and briefly discuss them.

Take a few minutes for everyone to think about and write down the things they are most thankful for from the past year, then a few more minutes for everyone to formulate their prayer for the coming year. (Or with advance notice, everyone can prepare their list ahead of time and take as much time for reflection as they like.)

Then, as you go around your circle, each person lights their small candle and reads or explains to the others what they are most thankful for in the past year and what their prayer is for the new one.

Image designed by Freepik. Text adapted from Activated magazine; used by permission.