Hopes and Dreams for 2015
2015 has arrived! A new year brings with it a chance for fresh insight and new focus into our spiritual lives. It's an opportunity to reconsider where we are heading and how God is planning to change our hearts and use our lives for His glory.
We have asked a few girls to join us as we think over our hopes, dreams, intentions and ambitions for 2015. Some of us have found it helpful to choose a particular ‘word for the year’, or to focus on a verse or image from the Bible and aim to make it a real feature of our spiritual journey throughout the year.
We hope you enjoy the following snapshots of our hopes and dreams for 2015!
For me, 2015 is a bit of an unknown. I’m not really sure what this year holds but my prayer is to trust the Lord with it, with all my heart. I often try to rely on my own strength and understanding but I want to learn to look to God instead, and to seek His will.
I want to trust God in every aspect of my life, in the assurance that I’ve been forgiven and made right with Him, and to completely depend on Him in all the everyday things as well as with big decisions. God promises that by looking to Him, we can be confident that He will direct our paths.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us that through our great high priest we can ‘boldly approach the throne of grace’ and so this is how I want to start this year, confidently looking to God and knowing his grace, and trusting Him alone.
My hope this year is that I look up in order that I can step into what God calls me to do. I love the story in Matthew where Peter walks on water after Jesus. Peter acts upon Jesus’ call to ‘take courage’ and steps out in faith onto the water. But Peter is so human, he looks around and worries about the obstacles surrounding him and panics, yet Jesus is there and does not let him sink. I can so sympathise with Peter – I’m a terrible worrier and often say ‘I can’t do it’.
But the Bible is littered with verses calling us to ‘look up/lift up our eyes’ and see who God is. Like Isaiah 40:26, which tells us God is the mighty Creator, yet he is so caring and calls each star by name. Here in Matthew, Jesus is in control – yet he also is a friend with whom we have a relationship, he is with us and paves the way in front of us.
I pray this year that I become so comfortable in my relationship with Jesus, with God’s identity and who I am in Him that I look up, and step out boldly into that which He has planned for me.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
My word for the year (and for the rest of my life!) is reliance. Reliance not on my own strength, but on Christ’s. That I would depend on Him for everything and not on my own power.
I love these verses from Paul’s letter to the Colossians - he reminds us that, in order to grow in our faith, we must “continue to live in [Christ]” and be “rooted” in him. Our joy, thankfulness, strength don’t come from ourselves but from God.
God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
This year I’m praying that I might learn what it is to be humble. I’ve often turned to this verse in moments of panic, as deadlines approach or decisions have to be made, yet I always turn to the second part of this verse. I was reminded recently that we are to humble ourselves before coming to God, recognising our weakness and need for God’s grace. I’m praying that throughout 2015 I would recognise and remember that I can’t get through life by myself and that I must humble myself before our God on whom I can cast all of my anxiety.
How great it is to know that whatever 2015 might hold for us, in the joys, struggles and those stressful, panicky moments that by humbling ourselves and relying on God we can find protection under his “mighty hand.”
The Bible tells us to fear not, to love God with all of our strength, to trust Him with everything, and to approach Him boldly. This year, I want to be defined by a spirit of boldness, drawing strength from my identity as a daughter of the King.
Like Milly, 2015 is an unknown and slightly daunting year for me. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God's Spirit does not give us fear, but gives us power and love. I'm praying that this year that I might be able to fix my eyes on God and find strength and boldness in Him. I want to be bold in my prayer life, bold in my love for others, bold in denying myself daily, bold in speaking about Jesus, bold in living radically and distinctively as His child.
So - here's to 2015, to being bold, and to knowing that the One who made the Heavens and the Earth loves me unconditionally and has a perfect plan for my life!
The element of my Christian faith which I aim to focus on in 2015 is my prayer life. My prayer life is something that I continuously struggle with. 1 Peter 5:7 states: "cast your cares upon him because he cares for you". I know that God cares about me but I still don't turn to God as my first option. I understand that if prayer was a priority in my life I would not stress as much over little things but instead would trust God with the details of my life. I find it easy to talk about this but much harder to implement in my daily life.
This year I would like to live completely trusting in God and focusing on him everyday. I want to walk away from my current cycle of stressing and trying to deal with things myself before offering them to God. God offers us peace and love if we only offer ourselves to him, not as a last resort but as our plan A.
As the old hymn states: "Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
A little simplistic, but in some ways so complex; my word for this year is Love. As Jake and I look forward to getting married in August, I'm learning more so than ever just how vast marital love is. In fact, I feel like movies like The Notebook and the likes have done me a great disservice. The love these movies portray barely scrapes the surface of how God intended lifelong, covenental love. Instead, marriage was created to be the ultimate reflection of Jesus's relationship with God and the church.
This can be overwhelming when we see Jesus with nails through his hands making the ultimate sacrifice for His true love - the same sacrifice that Jake and I will be called to make daily. Laying our lives down for the good of the other.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)