2013 was a pretty wild year for me. I think if you had told me in October of 2012 what the year in front of me would hold I would have probably chuckled and said "sure, whatever." Yet, a year later I am looking back at the events that transpired and the things that I did and I have a hard time believing that 2013 will be able to be topped. That's not to say that 2013 was full of happiness, daisies and roses. In some regards this last year was the most difficult year of my life. Yet, I'm a happy Calvinist and know that the Lord preordained these events to occur in my life to glorify himself and to transform me so that I would be more like the Son. I really shouldn't be surprised that he would do the very thing I pray for and the very thing he promises. Nor has everything been successful victory. But God has given grace and more grace. He's still working on me.
This last year I had the opportunity to travel to two foreign countries, preach in the church, write a book, revise another book, train leaders, speak at camps and seminars, disciple men, organize structures in the church and a myriad of other things. You might be impressed if I listed it all out.
But in thinking back I don't want 2013 to be a résumé builder for me. I don't want you to give me a trophy for "Maximum Global Impact of the Year" (there are others more deserving). I want Christ to be exalted. If 2013 wasn't about Jesus being magnified as King over all kings and my life being more submitted to him then it was a loss. Regardless of how wide my scope of influence became, if Jesus didn't have greater influence in my life then my labor, for me, was in vain.
Paul's word to the Galatian Christians is profoundly helpful. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14, ESV). In reflecting on 2013 I have to ask a few questions;
- Am I boasting in the cross? Namely, is my life about lifting up the sacrificial work of Jesus for my sin? Is my life about demonstrating and declaring the greatness of Christ?
- Is the world more dead or more alive to me? Do I value and esteem more the things of this world than the things of Christ? Do I hold in higher esteem the ethics of this world than I do the ethics of the cross?
Do I hold up my accomplishments so the world will think highly of and praise me? Or am I crucified to the praise of this world and live for the pleasure of God?
In all things I want Christ to be magnified. He has done great things, not me. In reflecting on 2013 my hope is that Jesus has been exalted by my life in all things. I pray that 2014 brings more glory to Christ in my successes and failures. I want the glory of Christ to be apprehended in my own life, my family, my church and the world. Even if I don't accomplish as much in 2014 in terms of scope or influence I pray that I can boast all the more in the cross of Jesus.