For many years I’ve used the Christmas holidays to reflect on the past year, ask God for marching orders for the coming one, and then commit to accomplish them–by his grace and strength
I’ve got my assignments for 2019.
Do you have yours?
Through-out my life, one particular Old Testament verse has guided me regarding a perspective on time. It was written by Moses, the “man of God,” who helped deliver the Hebrew nation from slavery. In it, he laments the shortness of life and the difficulties we face, then cries out to his Creator:
“Teach us to number our days that we might become wise!” (Psalm 90:12)
In other words, Moses asked God to help him time-consciously use his life for God’s purposes. He didn’t want to waste time, coast through life, or miss any tasks God wanted him to fulfill.
Moses lived longer than most–120 years. During that span, he learned to live it to the fullest.
Many years ago I grabbed on to the Psalm 90:12 prayer and decided to use it in two ways.
First, I put a page in my diary or Bible entitled “My Numbered Days (Year).” I use it to form a list of what I feel are God’s priorities for the next twelve months. I look at it often and “tick” off items as God allows me to do them.
(The list also includes some 10-year, 20-year or lifetime goals.)
Next, I estimated what might be my lifespan (based on the ages that my parents and grandparents lived) and decided to aim for potentially 85 years of life (there’s no guarantee). Since my father lived to 94, I’ve wondered whether I should add a few bonus years?
There are roughly 31,000 days in an 85 year lifetime. I have “numbered” those days in my personal journal (which I’ve kept since 1972). For each entry during the year I calculate how many days I’ve lived (including leap years), and how many days might be left for me if I am around until 2038.
Today, those numbers stand at 24,734 days lived and possibly 7,112 days left.
Looking regularly at these stats reminds me that the clock is ticking, the hourglass emptying, and I must use my precious time on earth wisely and carefully.
Then, I read an NDE (Near-Death Experience) book that gave further insights. Mary Neal, a surgical physician, had drowned during a kayaking trip, saw a glimpse of heaven, and was sent back to earth. During her excruciating recovery, Jesus “visited” her in some further dreams and visions.
A truth that Jesus communicated to Mary was that she had been brought back to life because she had assignments to fulfill that nobody else could do. She had been born to fulfill those assignments–which involved people and resources.
(The idea of “life assignments” can be found in numerous Scriptures including Psalm 139:14-16, Jeremiah 29: 11-14, Acts 13:36 and Galatians 1:15).
In the last part of her book, Dr. Neal explains in detail how those assignments came to pass. To Heaven and Back remains my favorite all-time NDE read. You can purchase it here.
So, how can each of us use our time wisely to complete God’s assignments in 2019? The key is intentionally identifying God’s action items for the coming year and then planning to do them with his necessary help.
Before I share my list and encourage you to form yours, I must share an important caveat. We are NOT all the same when it comes to planning.
Some of us, by nature, are more spontaneous and relational. We live in the moment and don’t make many long-term plans. Others are wired to be planners, thinkers, organizers, etc.
Each one of us fits somewhere on this spectrum of personality, with free spirits at one end and drill sergeants at the other. Be your best self, but don’t try to alter God’s design. We all need to plan and be intentional in life–but the degree will be different for different folks.
God wants you to fulfill your assignments the way He has chosen for wondrously-made you! Here are some areas to consider:
I always start by choosing the Bible translation I will use for this year’s devotions and set some goals for quiet times, prayer. intercessory subjects, and my overall relationship with God.
Years ago I began using the Personal Prayer Diary/Daily Planner created by Youth With A Mission. It’s one of the best tools ever produced for focusing your spiritual goals like an laser. Get one or use something similar to plan your spiritual priorities.
It’s always best to start with God (Proverbs 1:7 – The Message).
God showed Mary Neal some future relational assignments he had for her in her family. One involved the death of a son and another a severe depression by a family member. God revealed she’d been placed on earth to be there for these loved ones as no other person could. That’s why she’d been sent back.
I personally list a number of “assignments” this year for blessing family members, starting with our two living mothers (91 and 86), our children, and their close friends and associates. God gave us these special relationships for a reason. What are God’s goals for your family in 2019?
Since one of the main responsibilities of a Christ-follower is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), I set goals each year for sharing my life with others. In 2019, that involves 120 college students, numerous mission students and leaders, and some carefully chosen friends that I feel God wants me to mentor in 2019.
I pray purposefully for these special relationships each year–and make them a priority focus of my life.
One of our “reasons for being” is to serve people. Some friendships come about by spontaneous circumstances. But most should be intentional relationships where we pour our lives into others and receive back in return.
Who are your people/serving/discipling assignments for the coming year?
Whether you work as a missionary, stay-at-home mom, a laborer, a professional, or a leader of nation, we all have vocational callings that occupy our time and put food on the table. God wants us to find those vocations and use them to produce fruit for his Kingdom.
I discovered mine many years ago as a missionary–a proclaimer of God’s truth in many different places and ways. I have spent most of my life seeking God for direction in those missionary assignments and fulfilling them year-by-year.
In 2019 they include leading a doctoral missions program at FIU, raising money for Bibles and camps in Mongolia, serving on four missions boards, writing two tracts and a new book, and launching a greater proclamation presence on social media.
What are your vocational/ministry assignments in 2019?
I also pray each year about stewarding the properties and resources God has given me and my family. “Taking dominion” includes improving those parts of the earth/resources God has entrusted to you (Genesis 1:28).
I have a number of goals around our compound this year that I’m excited about. God is the author of stewardship and excellence.
Do you have some giving/gardening/home improvements/resource development/assignments on your 2019 list?
Long Term Assignments
I also ponder and plan future projects I believe God wants me to accomplish. These can involve travel, a Great Commission ” Bucket List” or other dreams not limited to next year. I have several of them set aside for prayer and long-term engagement.
How about you?
My 2019 Numbered Days assignment list is now typed up and taped in the front cover of my 2019 Personal Prayer Diary. I can look at it each day, tick off things as I accomplish them, and keep my eyes centered on God’s will for the year.
I want you to do the same.
Whether you’re as free-spirited as the wind or as calculating as Dr. Spock, God has assignments for you in 2019. What are they? How can you intentionally pursue them for His glory?
As in everything, let Jesus be your guide. He said this near the end of his earthly mission:
“I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last
detail what you assigned me to do” (John. 17:4 – The Message).
Go and do likewise.