Ah yes Christmas day has passed and a new year is upon us. And as the new year dawns we ring in new blog posts, new gym goals, new character resolutions, and new game plans to kick off the year with self-improvement. It is hardwired within us to increase, to gain, to improve, to dream, and to hope for something grander than the past. But how does this work spiritually for my family? How can I let New Year’s refresh my family discipleship to decrease myself and increase Christ in our lives (John )?
I love the beginning of each new year. It re-introduces a picture of fresh grace and a refreshing look at the Christian journey. Charles Spurgeon used to read Pilgrims Progress each year for this very purpose. There is joy in seeing God’s fresh grace in a new season of life and throughout our Christian journey. If the past year was rough, disappointing, lonely, full of suffering, or marred with personal mistakes, hope abounds for a time of peace, rest, and new healing ahead. If the year gone flourished with great memories, milestones, and growth the year ahead offers brave new possibilities of God’s grace, strength, and direction into the next unknown.
For myself this new year offers fresh thoughts on how my family grows toward Christ. It’s my first New Year’s as a husband, father, and with one on the way! I reflect on the past year and see major milestones met with beginnings in marriage, fatherhood, and ministry. In those seven months I had a strange new experience of watching my new family transform little bit by little bit. New holiday traditions taking hold. New patterns of parenting and life settling between Berlynn and I. Looking and listening to my son I saw new hints of a more mature face, more matured words, and evidence of a couple added inches to some spindly seven-year old legs. And I’ve begun to realize family growth and milestones are met in the micro-moments as Paul Tripp notes so well (Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones).
It’s the millimeters that matter. Most miss the millimeter moments for the big resolution, but without millimeters milestones we fall far short of a mile. Luckily God operates and offers abundant grace in the micro moments of life.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;”(Lamentations 3:22-23) …of each day and each millimeter moment of the year.
Many moments recognizing and responding to God’s grace changes and redeems our lives and families. Days and weeks and years and lives in reality are changed in micro moment-by-moment recognition and resolution toward God’s grace. Psalm 1 talks of Christian growth through constant meditation on the grace of God’s word like a tree constantly absorbing water bit-by-bit from a nearby stream – each year growing ring by ring stronger in Christ.
So how do I recognize and accept grace by the millimeter? Here are a few thoughts based on some regular family discipleship rhythms.
Devotion: Set aside some of your regular devotional family time to talk about the grace you saw in this past year. How did you see God develop you, your children, or your wife? Ask each member of the family to share a story of the past year. As a family see if you can pick out how God worked in each story and what God’s grace looked like. Talk about some ways you can look for God’s grace day-to-day in this new year.
Moment: Go beyond asking your wife and kids, “what did you do today?” or “how was your day?” During the car ride, at dinner, or one-on-one ask how God showed grace to them in their day. Lead out in revealing grace - talk about how God showed grace toward you in your day. What new thoughts and experiences did He give you? What sin did He bring out of darkness? What new resolutions and changes in attitude did He show you.
Activity: Measure some of God’s grace as a family throughout this new year. Recording God’s grace in our lives often helps us look for and grasp grace in tangible ways. Grab a big mason jar or glass jug from your local thrift store and throughout the year when your family experiences grace from God through someone or something write it on a slip of paper with the date and drop it in the jar. Put it in a prominent place in the house and maybe think of one moment of grace each week (or each day) throughout the year at family dinner/ devotion time, pray for it, write it down, and drop it in the jar. Each New Year open the jar and revel in God’s goodness.
Benjamin D. Pierce