Stop – Evaluate – Go

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

2014 is just around the corner. We are completing a year and getting ready to start a new one. Isn’t this a good time to stop and evaluate how we are spending our time, energy, and money? While there are some things we want to leave behind as we begin a New Year, are there other things that we need to give more focus to in the New Year?

For several years I have contributed to and been on the advisory board for Preaching Magazine. Recently the magazine carried a story about William Van Poyck who died by lethal injection in a Florida prison in June 2013. He had killed a prison guard. In his last days he wrote down the following thoughts:

“I’ve already thrown or given away 95 percent of my personal property, the stuff that for years seemed so important. All those great books I’ll never get to read; reams and reams of legal work I’ve been dragging around and studying for two decades, and which has suddenly lost its relevance. My magazines and newspapers stack up unread; I have little appetite to waste valuable, irreplaceable hours reading up on current events.

Does it really matter to me now what’s happening in the Middle East, or on Wall Street, or how my Miami Dolphins are looking for the upcoming new season? What’s the point? Ditto the TV; I’m uninterested in wasting time watching programs that now mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. The other day I caught myself reaching for my daily vitamin. ‘Really?’ I wondered, as the absurdity hit me. Likewise, after 40 years of working out religiously, that’s out the window now. Again, what’s the point?”

While most of us are not sitting on death row, none of us knows how long we have to live. It is a good time to stop and take inventory. What is really important? What do I need to take out of my daily schedule? What things are really worth pursuing in life?

The Apostle Paul gave an insight into how he lived his life. He wrote to the Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind, reaching for what is in front, I press on toward the mark of the prize of my high calling in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:13, 14) Paul makes it clear that we have to forget what is behind us. Whenever we take something out of our lives that void will be filled with something. We need to fill that void with the kind of priorities we want to set for the New Year. God has a great calling for each of us. We need to enter 2014 at full speed pressing forward.

The last days of 2013 is a good time to clean out the trash. If we leave garbage sitting around, it begins to stink. If we leave food in a refrigerator for a long time, it will spoil and give off a terrible odor. What things in my life do I need to discard to eliminate the odor?

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that athletes always remove any excess weight before running the race. (Hebrews 12:1) Excess weight will always slow you down and trip you up. You never win if you run wearing unnecessary weight.

2014 is the most important race in life for us. Get ready! Get off to a good start! Discard the unimportant and focus on the important things!


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