Faith in Focus


Dear Brother & Sister­in­law,

As you embark on a new phase of your life, we write you this letter to wish you all the best and above all God's blessings over your life. We will remember you in our prayers and hope that all may work out well for you.

Quite some time ago we ­as a husband and wife­ were asked to stop and think about our goals and objectives. When first confronted with this idea, I tended to push it aside thinking that that's worldly and materialistic and somewhat "unchristian" because 'everything is in the Lord's Hand anyway and He directs our paths'. Which sounds very pious and devout, but is perhaps not really a Christian attitude at all. We who loudly proclaim that people should pray and work [yes, ora et labora], aren't we supposed to plan ahead, to work out a budget, be prudent and have "all things in order?" God worked out this great plan of salvation for us, are we then allowed just to bum around? [excuse my language!] Isn't that one way to read Luke 14: 28­32?

So, I set down one night and wrote out my goals and objectives and I would like to share them with you, as you might benefit from doing the same thing for yourselves.

Everybody will have a different set of goals, even husband and wife may differ to a large extend on what they aim for, although I guess certain topics will have to be worked out together. As a guide­line, it may be helpful to remember:

1. goals have to be direct & specific

2. goals have to be achievable ­not too high/not too low­

3. goals have to be met within a certain time

4. goals have to be able to be measured

5. goals can be planned in stages

6. goals can be short term or long term

7. goals are to motivate you in a positive way

8. goals are realistic with resources & responsibility

Well, when I thought about all this for some time, I realised that for me there is one goal divided in seven areas.

Main goal in life: "IN ALL YOU DO GLORIFY GOD"

That of course is the answer to the first question in the Shorter Catechism. "What is man's chief end?"

We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But how often do we realise this and actually live it out?? I must shamefully admit that I can go for days without really giving much thought on why I do things­ apart from the fact that they need to be done­ You know you go to work to glorify God? You dress the children to glorify God? You speak to your neighbour to glorify God? Wouldn't it be easy to be a flower or a bird, all they have to do is exist and they bring glory to God. Just by being what God created them for, they glorify God in their lives. Yet that is exactly what we were created for too!! Just that we get things so terribly mixed up so often. Now, how do you work this out in your life?? I decided on 7 "F­words"

1. Faith

2. Family

3. Full­time employment

4. Fellow-people

5. Financial

6. Fun

7. Future

I will elaborate a little on each one of them, giving you the bones to work with NOT the meat to put on, as this is very personal and individual: 1} Faith. Our goal is to stay within driving distance of a Reformed Church so we can attend church twice on the Lord's day and be an active part of the local congregation. We also want to support the Church financially & physically as much as we can. For our personal faith it is our aim to grow closer to God in personal devotions and Bible study.

2} Family. Again we must be within driving distance of a Christian school, as so to give our children the education they deserve. Our lifestyle is to be balanced between church, family & work. This puts limits on where we can live, which job we can accept etc., which we realize very well, but we feel we have to be first and foremost obedient to God, so instead of being something negative, we see it as a positive commitment to God's commandment and to our children which is not negotiable. As our goals often tie in I'll give you a little example: with our 4 children, we still have roughly 30 years of Christian Education up our sleeves @ $ 2000 per child [approx.] = $ 60,000 If we ­as we plan­ support our children's education till they turn 18 we will have spent a total of $ 86,000 on them. We could have bought a house for that???? No, I'd rather have my children 'instructed in the ways of the Lord'.

3} Full­time employment. This will have to be a very bony one, as the 'meat' is different in every occupation. I started off with: to be efficient, punctual, trustworthy and reliable in my work and then had a whole list of step­by­step objectives which we want to meet by a certain time.

4} Fellow people. Be hospitable and have time for others, don't load yourself up so much that you have no time for giving a helping hand, being a listening ear or just have fellowship with friends. In this area I would also include some community project, charitable work or schoolwork. Remember, your fellow people are not just the people you get on with {Jesus asked "Who was the neighbour?" Reply "The one who showed mercy"} [Luke 10: 30­37]

5}. Financial. Have our mortgage paid off by 20...?

Of course I already mentioned several financial factors in our church donations, Christian education, charitable gifts, etc., but we just sat down and made a budget, looked at our finances and came up with the end figure.

6}. Fun. Really, you don't want to be burdened by all your goals so much that you cannot enjoy your life/ lifestyle any more. What's fun for you? Fishing, tramping, arts, quilting? Just allow some planning for that too, or that overseas trip you've been dreaming about.

7}. Future. Last but not least. You might be surprised by this item as the whole goal setting is focused on the future. But when I say "future" I really meant eternity. How can you plan for that? Isn't that God's election? Yes, too right it is, and I only know too well that I can add nothing, nor take away anything from God's predestination. And still I wanted to include it in my goals. Why? Because the Bible also speaks of "working out your salvation with fear and trembling", and so I can do a bit of planning not to earn my goal, but to prepare myself to get to the goal which God, in His great mercy has set for me by sacrificing His own dear Son on the cross for my sins. Surely out of thankfulness to that goal I can plan to be whole­heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

And so the circle is complete {by the way, 7 is the complete number in the Bible also­ not that that says much in this case..} I hope that this has been helpful to you. As you can see, the goals intertwine and mingle, but as long as we have the right Focus, we cannot go far wrong. KEEP FAITH YOUR FOCUS.

Lots of love,

Jo & Kelly

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / / revised March 96 / Copyright 1996