This January on the blog, we are joined by Jacob Holden, Camp Pastor of the Blue Team this past summer. Keep reading as Jacob unpacks what it looks like to start this new year giving our ALL to God in everything we do.
New Year New Me? Well that’s what I was hoping for. In fact, I was excited to ring in the New Year as 2017 steadily came to an end.
Don’t get me wrong. Last semester was very eventful and probably the most life-changing to date. I graduated community college, served with WinShape Camps for Communities as Camp Pastor, transferred to Mississippi College, went to Mexico on a mission trip over Christmas break, and watched the ball drop with friends and family. But as my peers began to dread school starting back, I got more and more excited. I don’t know what it was, but I knew 2018 was going to be a good year.
The fun started right away, with four friends and me taking a road trip to Florida Caverns State Park! It was freezing but we were nice and warm in the caverns. We spent the rest of the day hiking paths that webbed through the protected forest, and as night fell, we began our journey back home. On the car ride back, I rode up front with Seth, a new friend from school. He asked what I was looking forward to this school year and I began to tell him about how I was so excited for the New Year. I explained to him how I was ready to make changes; that 2018 would be even better. He asked how, so I began to list off resolutions. New Year’s resolutions compiled of things I wanted to do better this semester:
“I want to spend more time with friends; I want to cook more; I want to make better grades; I want to walk with more confidence; I want keep up with old friends from camp; I want to get better at managing money; I want to join more school clubs, work out in the mornings, and get a higher paying job.”
I had a list of improvements. There was going to be a “New Me”.
He glanced at me and asked, “Why do you want to do those things?”
I was confused. I figured, “Why not?” I thought improving was good. I didn’t want 2017 Jacob following me into 2018. There was just no room for him. He would only hold me back, or make me slip into old routines and habits.
But Seth kept questioning me. And finally, while I rambled on more about my resolutions, he asked, “Isn’t it cool that God is involved in every aspect of our lives?”
I thought, “Yeah. I guess that’s cool.”
He said, “You don’t need to worry about this year. As believers, God is intimately involved in everything we do or hope to do.”
It surprised me. I honestly hadn’t thought about it.
And I started to realize a problem with my resolutions.
I remembered every day for 10 weeks I taught campers a “Today’s Truth”. The Truths were mottos we lived by, and every Tuesday during the summer I would say, “When I love God with ALL of me, I put Him first in everything.”
Sadly, God didn’t seem to be first. In fact, I don’t think He made the list. It was all about me.
I was reminded that it wasn’t supposed to be that way!
When I give God my ALL, everything else immediately takes second place.
Friends, family, food, whatever; It doesn’t stand a chance.
Philippians 3:7, 8, 10a says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ … that I may know Him …”
No matter what I wished to gain or become, Christ had to be priority.
There was another problem with my resolutions.
As much as I was excited to apply these changes, a part of me was worried. A deep part of me worried that I was going to make the same mistakes I made last year; the things I forgot to do or just didn’t apply very well.
I needed to be better, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be.
However, that’s not how God wants us to think. He says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)
As much as I tried to justify to myself that those were legitimate concerns, I remembered that Jesus also said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:26).
The scripture goes on to say that God’s love for us should convince us that the only thing we need to worry about is Him!
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34).
I encourage you, brothers and sisters, as you begin the New Year, let us put God first in all that we do. I’m sure there are so many things fighting for your attention in 2018, but they just don’t match when compared to God.
They’re garbage in comparison.
It’s also easy to worry about what the world says is important, and it’s a bit overwhelming. God wants us to know how precious we are to Him. We are his children.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
We learned over the summer to give God our ALL.
We learned that Jesus told us to love Him with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
Why? Because He deserves it.
I hope you give 2018 your ALL. Happy New Year.