How to Do Year End Review Well? Shut & Open

The Christmas season is typically a time of reflection and appreciation. In order to move forward well in the New Year, we need to learn to shut the door of the past behind. Our New Year hope should not be dragged down by the past events that slip out from the unshut door. Looking forward and letting go of the past is the key to a better life.
Listing to this morning Ravi Zacharias' pod cast leads me to do a search for the essays written by F W Boreham. Not only did I find the original essay "Please Shut this Gate!" quoted by Ravi, I also find another post by Ravi that is related to this, "Prayer for a Future Me."

I think that these two, shutting the past gate and futuring should be done together. Looking forward helps us to shut the gate of the past. Even so, we should carefully do each stage, the shutting and the opening well.

Shutting the Gate Properly
The following passage quoted from "Please Shut this Gate!" , are important in helping us to do a proper shutting:

  • 'When he was on his death-bed a clergyman went to him and asked him if there was anything he would like to say or any message he wanted to deliver. "No," answered the doctor, "except that through life I think I have always closed the gates behind me!"'
  • If the decision was sound, why question it? If the decision was doubtful, the sooner it is forgotten the better. Why torture yourself dwelling upon it? The horse is sold; the house is bought; the contract is signed; the situation is declined; the step taken cannot be retraced. A wise man will firmly and finally shut the gate. It is the better way.
  • There are thousands of things behind me of which I have good reason to be afraid; but it is the glory of the Christian evangel that all the gates may be closed. It is grand to be able to walk in green pastures and beside still waters unafraid of anything that I have left in the perilous fields behind me.

'What lessons could we learn from this?' is a key question to ask about our past. We may want to write them down that we may have a proper closure. There may be nothing for us to learn as in the example of the acceptance or rejection of seemingly better job offers. We just need to know to trust God and accept that our present situation and our future are in the hands of a loving God. If He allows it, it is good for us and shut the gate (Rom 8:28).

The Chinese has a saying on the eight suffering of life and 'inability to let go' is the eighth suffering of life.  See Eight Sufferings of Life and the Gospel.

Painting the Future
Looking at the future helps take our eyes away from our past. What do I plan to become? What has God lead me to become? In the passage "Prayer for a Future Me.", Ravi wrote that some of the futuring were prayers of anxiety and are still link to the unclosed past ...as in:
  • "While I like to think of these mental notes as prayers for the future—and many of them are—many of them more closely resemble a listing of fears, an anxious warning at what I might forget or what might go wrong. Though I am looking ahead, it is as if I am still looking behind me."
Our hope is in the finished work of Christ, as Ravi wrote:
  • “It is finished,” forever offering a door to shut, forever promising the strength to shut it. In this New Year, one can say in hope and in light: Christ has gone before us, he walks among us, he is our rearguard, he is our strength.

Paul shows us what are the important things to plan for into the future:
  • Brothers and sisters, .... But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. --- Philippians 3:13-14
May we draw strength from the completed work of Christ to shut our past, item by item, and bury them. May we also draw hope that the resurrected Christ is walking besides us into our future to bring us into what He has created us for.

Have a joyful Christmas seasons and a blessed New Year 2015!

Lim Liat (c) 21 Dec 2014

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