This is the time of year we start to look at the future and a book I pull off my shelf at this time of year is 'How to keep a spiritual journal' by Ron Klug and in particular the chapter entitled 'Looking forward'. One of the first verses someone gave me after I became a Christian was Jer 29 v 11 'For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope'
The Purpose Driven Life (the world's best selling book) has a superb first line.
"It's not about you."
As you look towards the next decade here are some things you might like to journal about (put a moleskine on you Christmas list or buy a present of one for yourself). You might want to take half a day or a couple of hours over the holiday and stand back and also look forward. Here are some ideas.
There are lots more ideas here and watching this is helpful too.
1. Before I die
As I am so often reminded our time is finite but no matter how long we may or may not have it can be fruitful. Klug recommends writing a list of '100 things I would like to do before I die'. Let your imagination run riot, you may repeat things and don't worry about practicality. Then turn your list into a journal entry and offer it as prayer.
You might want to work this up into a PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT (I have linked to the Fanklin Covey one which might be a help)
2. I have a dream
What are your dreams. Allow yourself to dream with hope. Dreams for your work, your children, your family and friends, your church. Again don't try to be too practical just dream.
3. Back from the future
Leap forward 25 years and imagine that the 25 years that have past have been happy, blessed and fruitful. Describe what has happened in the last quarter of a century. I love what Rick Warren says "What's in my hand?". What have you been given and how are you planning to steward it. You have gifts, resources, background, influence, education, relationships and circumstances. "What is in your hand?" This is perhaps your question my friend.
4. Dying and rising
Martin Luther (following Paul) saw the Christian life as daily death and rebirth-as the old nature dies and the new nature lives in God's resurrection power. Look at the pattern of your life. What is dying in your life (relationships, commitments, dreams, goal) What is rising? (new habits, hopes, challenges and experiences)
5. Spiritual legacy
'What will I leave behind?' Imagine you have reached the end of your pilgrimage on earth. Where have you sown? To whom do your bequeath your material and your spiritual resources.
6. The final journey
Take some time to write down what you think about life and death. Where did these ideas come from? What questions do you have? Ask yourself 'Has my life been wasted?' 'What do I still need to do?' 'If my time was finite and a lot less than I might be assuming- how would I be planning differently?' "How do you want to be remembered?'. 'What will your obituary be?' Challenging stuff I know but it is the one certainty we all face so we may as well wake up to this reality.