The past few years have not been very easy for Hong Kong, but 2023 felt a little more hopeful when it came to returning to “normal life” (however you might define that). Did you make plans? Did your plans change? What are your plans for 2024?
As Christians, we have the privilege of knowing the big picture of our creator God’s plans for this world. All creation was originally made to enjoy a blessed life under his perfect rule. Even though we have rebelled against him and now live in a broken world, if we return to him through putting our faith in Jesus Christ, then we can return to that blessed life and join him in the new creation when Jesus returns.
That’s the macro plan. But what about our micro everyday plans? Until that final day comes, we still have a number of days to live through and to make the most of.
I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letters in the Bible. He frequently shares his missionary travel “plans” with churches in various regions, but we also see how many times that his plans change due to unforeseen circumstances.
An instance where we can see this is in 2 Corinthians. In this letter, Paul tells them that “I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia… But I call God to witness against me – it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth… For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” (1:16 – 2:4).
This is a common sentiment from Paul. In many of his letters, we get to learn about this internal tension within him. Even though there is much pain and suffering, he is still full of deep joy and love because he remembers the big picture of why he’s making these sacrifices. Paul continues: “Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? … For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus].” (1:17-20).
His strong grip of the “bigger” picture helps him make wise decisions when it comes to the “smaller” everyday things – like travel plans and letter writing. As long as he can encourage other Christians to keep going strong in their faith in Jesus and the gospel, then it doesn’t really matter if he’s physically there with them or not. His own personal desires become secondary, and he prioritises God’s kingdom above all else in his “plans”.
What can we learn from this kind of mindset and how can we apply it to ourselves as we look ahead towards a new year? Here are a few practical takeaways that might be helpful.
Change is inevitable
This world we live in now is temporary and transient, so things don’t stay the same and change is just a part of life. Accepting that will help us move forward in a healthy way.
Change towards a certain direction
Unfortunately, not all change is good, and it’s worth noting the “direction” of change. Are you changing and growing as a person/in your Christian faith? Or are you changing and moving further away from the Lord
Remembering the final destination
Throughout life, the journey can be a bit of a roller coaster (with ups and downs), so it’s important not to lose the plot and remember where we’re ultimately heading. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks and be quick to return to the Lord.
May our plans for 2024 be motivated not solely by our personal interests, but by what can bring God’s kingdom great glory!