It’s soon time to say goodbye to 2017. And what a year it’s been. On a national level, we’ve seen some pretty amazing and life-altering events. Who can forget the epic comeback of the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 51 over the Atlanta Falcons? In keeping with sports, the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Golden State Warriors all claimed the title of “World Champion” in each of their respective leagues. In the world of entertainment, there was quite a buzz over the latest release in the Star Wars franchise...have you seen it?
2017 also brought us some heartbreaking news. How can we forget the devastation from hurricanes affecting regions of Houston and Texas, parts of Florida, and Puerto Rico? We saw the onslaught of wildfires affecting hundreds of thousands of acres in California and Montana. We witnessed a madman shooter who killed and maimed innocent lives at a country music concert in Las Vegas. Still another shooter singled out churchgoers in sleepy Southerland Springs, Texas. We observed the political scene and media pundits surrounding a new president with all the daily headlines…whether it’s been “fake news” or not. And perhaps one of the saddest tales: we’ve become accustomed to seeing wave after wave of scandal...especially in the realms of Hollywood, Washington DC, and again, the media; all of it centered around inappropriate sexual behavior.
I’ll be honest. I’m ready to close the book on 2017. We certainly experienced a lot as a country and I’m hoping we can move forward and heal from most of what I just mentioned (granted, New England will probably be in the hunt for another Super Bowl title…I know Falcons fans are still bitter!).
No I’m not dogging 2017. For me personally, it’s been a great year. I’ve seen God stretch my family and I in ways we’ve never been stretched before. I never would've imagined that we would be where we are now a year ago. And I’m grateful for so many opportunities that have come this year.
But I’m ready to keep going and set my sights on 2018.
How about you?
I don’t want to get overly nostalgic. I think wins and losses from our past have to be things we learn from as we allow them to shape us for the future. I set out this year wanting to write a new blog every week. I wasn’t sure how that would work, when I’d find the time, how often I’d come up against writer’s bloc and a lack of ideas, etc. But I felt God impressing it upon my heart to do it. Here we are, hitting the finish line of 2017 with this last blog of the year. It’s been a victory for me personally.
I’m going to continue to write as it’s become an outlet that I believe helps build a ministry and reach out to other Christians. I believe we all need encouragement as we run this race of life. On too many occasions to count, many of you have given that encouragement back to me. Several times you’ve reached out and said something that impressed you or made you consider some matter of the faith in perhaps a different light. And for my 93-year old Grandma Johnson who reads my blog every week and sends me a text of the kindest, most thoughtful words (yes, she does indeed text!): I say thank you Grandma. You have inspired me every step of the journey and you and Grandpa (who passed in 1997) have made faith the cornerstone of our family. If I can pass any legacy on to my own boys it would be for them to have the same desire to seek the Lord that you’ve given me. You’ve put Christ first and foremost…I cannot thank you enough.
So brothers and sisters in Christ, if you will continue on with me in this journey, I would love to walk it with you. I’m sensing God continuing to clarify and shape the vision of what He wants for Derek Charles Johnson; what He has to say through my life. I have a deep desire for believers to realize who they are in Christ and not to settle into patterns of doing religion rather than seeking relationship. I want us not to get comfortable with where we are at. Comfort causes us to never leave the 99 to seek the 1. I hope what I do, say, and write can be a spark that causes others to leave the familiar for the unfamiliar; to step out in God-given boldness and urgency. We don’t know how much time we have. We must use it wisely.
As you hit the finish line of 2017, I pray you’ll finish well and finish strong. Take a moment to look back but don’t stay there for too long. God has some great things in store if you’ll trust Him and make His plans your own. He is faithful through every moment. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Here’s to great endings and powerful new beginnings! I love you all.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20,21