The Minters attempting a poised family photo.

Poised Family Photo.

I’m about to pluck the ornaments from the Christmas tree and wrap the lights into a quasi-organized ball of tangles. The mantle will be cleared, and my Vietri santa sugar and creamer that my Mom graciously splurged on for me will be put away until next November or so. The shimmering green, silver, and red wrapped Hershey’s Kisses will remain on my dining room table until they’ve been eaten, because I think you can get away with those well into January. It’s when you’re offering them to guests in August that they become a problem.

Gathering up the Christmas decorations and making way for a new year’s reality can be both disheartening and invigorating. Though I’m always sad to see the holiday season come to an end with its family gatherings, rich foods, post-season football games, times of relaxation, and of course its unparalleled focus on Christ’s birth, I am usually ready to begin the year anew. Like most of you, I’m sure you’ve been pondering the experiences that you were ready to see vanish into 2011 and the ones you hope to see dawn in 2012. I hope the following will be of some encouragement to you…

I was reading in I Samuel 25 last week, and was stirred by a phrase in verse 28 that will usher me into the new year. The following words were spoken by Abigail to King David, “…the Lord will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my master, because he fights the Lord’s battles.” I don’t know what battles lie in front of you, but in the spirit of transparency I have wasted precious moments of my life fighting battles that were not the Lord’s. I have spent valuable nights worrying about relationships I wasn’t supposed to be in in the first place. I’ve needlessly toiled over obstacles in my career that weren’t part of God’s plan. I’ve fretted over finances when the Lord had already promised to provide for my needs.

When I read the above words that characterize David’s life, I was inspired to specifically seek God’s direction for this coming year. “Lord, I don’t want to waste valuable time that I can never get back fighting battles that are meaningless.” This year I want to learn more of what it means to fight where it matters. Whether it’s struggling in prayer for those in the Amazon region of Brazil, studying the Scriptures, designating money to the needs God has put on my heart, spending time over coffee with those who could use encouragement, learning a new skill, cooking a new dish… I want to contend where God’s asked me to.

How beautiful that according to John 15, we don’t have to do this alone. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches that naturally grow out of that vine bearing the fruit He authors. I am excited for this coming year; Thankful for what God has done in my life in 2011, and looking forward to the ground He will ask me to fight for. In the meantime, I’m going to cook some kale, cannellini bean, sausage soup for tonight, and watch pieces of the numerous college bowl games. I may even take a nap.

Thank you so much for your incredible support of me over the past few years. I am thankful for each and every one of you, even if we have yet to meet. May God’s favor rest upon you in 2012.