On Lasts and Firsts New Year’s Day, 2023
I was cleaning the garage this week. I do my best thinking there. We have a 2-car garage that has not had room for my car for 20 years. There are 2 baby-strollers, a huge box of baseball cards, every old musical instrument that you Jacob ever played, 3,961 couch cushions, well, you get the picture. A ton of junk that really needs to be thrown away and a little bit of space for Doris to park. Goodbye 2-car garage. But back to the thinking, I was thinking that the last year has been a year of significant lasts for me. Not to the degree of my friend Sharon who lost her beloved spouse, or my friend Mike who is getting ready to send his daughter to Australia, but lasts, endings, goodbyes none-the-less.
It began for me in late July of 2021. Sammy passed away, my stepfather, who was the bane of my existence and the joy of my life all at once. It took me until well into 2022 to realize the impact of that ending. Caring for Sammy was part of what defined me. Then last year, I stepped down from Branches and turned that over to Josh. It was and is a great decision. He is doing such a good job. Branches is so much better off. And I am enjoying the release from responsibility. But still, that ending took away part of what gave me purpose. Chonda built a house on the farm. It’s beautiful and I am so genuinely happy for her, but that chapter of caring for a 100 acres of woods in Ashland City has come to an end. And on it goes.
Endings. Closure. Lasts. Changes that mean things will never be the same. 2022 was a particularly “lasts” kind of year for me. And my imagination is that many of you would echo those same sentiments, probably with more dramatic anecdotes. In all honesty, the older we get, the more lasts come along. Like running my last half-marathon and saying, “I’ll never do that again.” 😊
That’s why New Year’s Day is so important. It is a day of firsts. Fresh start, new beginning, blank page, clean slate, this is the time when we get to start all over again and do a lot of things for the first time (at least this year). Maybe we even begin some things for the first time in our lives. “My social security starts this year.” “I’m going to learn Spanish this year.” “This is the year I join the Pickleball League.” Today is a day of firsts.
Well, I have some suggested firsts for you. First, let me say, I am preaching on this at my church today. I am releasing a “MondayMatters” on Sunday today on this topic. So, there is a good chance you will hear some of the same stuff from me more than once. It wouldn’t be the first time. 😊 (See what I did there?) On to the firsts.
Jesus said, “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be given to you.” If you want more depth on that listen to the sermon. For now, let that be the backdrop to these suggested firsts. This year, 2023, determine to put God first in the following ways:
- Give God the first hour of every day, I call that silence. Start the day with His Word, a good devotional book, and a time of prayer. You might even throw in a cup of coffee and a worship CD but give the first period of time each day to Him. Doesn’t have to be a full hour, just start with God.
- Give the first day of every week to God. That’s Sabbath. (And yes, I know that the sabbath is technically the last day, but it messes up my outline here.) Get back to church. Not just going but participating, worshipping, really digging in and letting God impact you on the first day of every week.
- Give the fruits of every harvest to God. The word is stewardship. Well, actually, the word is tithe. Just do it. If at the end of the year, you are not better off, Gary Pyatt will give you all of your money back. (It’s an inside joke.)
- Finally, Give God the first month of this year. Join me and a bunch of others in dedicating January 2023 to go ALL IN. We are taking on some intentional, structured spiritual disciplines to make us better Christ-followers. You can follow on this blog or go to “MondayMatters” on YouTube to get more direction. The main thing is to determine to start 2023 with a month of being ALL IN for Jesus.
A lot of things ended in 2022. Many of those things were probably hard, even painful. We can stay stuck on those things, or we can say, “I’m going to make some fresh starts this year.” Do that. Begin today. Go all in and see how much better it feels. And here’s another thing, you might throw a lot of that garage junk away too.
- Thanks to my friend David Robertson for suggestions for some of the firsts in my life and this blog.
- To hear the message go to www.familywc.com
- And, MondayMatters in on YouTube or FaceBook at @cmichaelcourtney