We do need to think about this year ahead. We need that active straining forwards, pressing on, Christ-as-the-goal mindset. We mustn’t meander this year; we mustn’t stay still this year; we mustn’t drift this year. There needs to be an activeness to what we do, and there needs to be momentum to what we do. There needs to be forward-movement in what we do.
I know that for myself (Rhodri), if no one else, it is what I need to hear because it is so easy to become despondent. It is so easy to stop; it is so easy to get discouraged. It is so easy to give up; it is so easy just to say, “Oh, forget it. Let’s just throw in the towel; let’s not do anything else because it’s too hard.” But let’s look at the apostle Paul and remember that actually, this is the most pleasurable thing we could be doing.
I have been doing a little bit of running in 2023, and that was one of the big things for me that changed about running is when I realised that it was actually something I gained pleasure from. As soon as I saw that it was something that I would gain pleasure from, I wanted to do it more.
Now, that doesn’t mean that all the other difficult aspects of it were still there; there was still an effort to get out. It’s still painful to run, and yet, the joy that I gain from running makes me want to do it.
But as the apostle Paul says elsewhere, physical exercise is only of some value. So, what we have instead is not just physical exercise but spiritual exercise. This is to be our focus both individually and in families and as a church this year: to say, “Right, what can I do today to make much of Christ? What can I do today to know Christ better? What can I do today to encourage others to know Christ better—others in the church and others outside the church—by pressing forward?”
And when I fail to press forward, then I go back to the beginning of the gospel, and I remind myself that I’m forgiven. I remind myself that Christ has already won the race, that I’m already at the finish line because I’m married to Him. But that I do have work to do because I want to do this work in response to the salvation of Christ because I love Him and I love His Kingdom, and I want to serve Him.