There is something very special and energizing about entering a new year! It’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over. It’s a new beginning where we have an opportunity to try harder and trust God more. Instead of focusing on regrets or weaknesses of the past year, we can dare to believe that this will be the year!
One of our most beloved LaFontaine family traditions is something we call “Dream Night.” Usually between Christmas and New Years Day the family would sit together in the living room, (just like we did every night for devotions) pass out paper and pencils, and the room would get extremely quiet. Dad would ask us what we wanted to accomplish in the coming year, then he would ask what we wanted to accomplish long term, for instance 5 years from now.
When we were young we would draw a line down the center of the page in order to separate our goals and dreams into two categories, Spiritual and Non-Spiritual. The “Non-Spiritual” category came with different names like “Natural” or “Physical” and as we got older it would include “Financial” goals as well. Even as small children I remember taking this very seriously, asking mom or dad how to spell things.
Dad believed in setting goals and, dreaming big was not only acceptable but encouraged. He was careful to instruct us not to make this a wish list or shopping list of wants. He encouraged us to think about God and others and “check our motives” because accomplishment with the wrong motive will eventually become the wrong accomplishment. This is what the James is talking about when he says “You are jealous and covet what others have and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain the object of your envy; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask it of God.“ In verse three it continues, “You ask God for something and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda, so that when you get what you want you may spend it on your hedonistic desires.” James 4:2-3 Amplified Bible
Each family member prayerfully considered what they really wanted to do in the future and filled the paper as much as we could. Sometimes we would read them to the family but I remember times that one or two items on someone’s list word remain “unspoken.” After that we folded them, prayed over them, and put them in an envelope which usually stayed in the family Bible in our living room.
Over the years our confidence in this family tradition grew because each year before starting “Dream Night” we would open and read the previous year’s papers. I can’t tell you how many times we sat in awe with tears in our eyes as we realized that God had heard our goals and desires and had helped us achieve many of our dreams, some of which we had forgotten!
Did you know that God makes plans for you? In Jeremiah 29:11-13 He says, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.” After telling us His plans for us He tell us in verse 12 what we should do, “Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear your voice and I will listen to you.” Then He finishes with this great promise, “Then with a deep longing you will seek Me and require Me as a vital necessity and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
In Proverbs 29:18 the Bible says “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” As we embrace 2017, we are praying for God to guide us to accomplish much for His kingdom this year. If you get a chance, we invite you to watch one of Dad’s sermons on this subject.