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Farewell 2017

Posted 12/27/2017

As Christmas has come and gone, we are just days away from saying goodbye to 2017.  While news and sports media reveal their top ten stories of the year, I also took the time to reflect and review on the year.  This has been my personal tradition for many years.


The  older I got, the faster the years have passed me by.  Most days seemed like a blur to me at best, if I can recall them at all.  It fees like summer had ended two weeks ago, when the haze from the seemingly unstoppable wildfire in interior BC dimmed the sky on the supposedly sunny days.  Not too long before that, we almost thought that summer would be cancelled because of the relentless snowfalls and cold snaps during the winter and early spring.  And now, winter is back and it's snowing again.


Personally, this year was marked by changes, both externally and internally.  Writing and publishing blog posts, for example, is a task that I thought I would never be doing before this year, and I will elaborate on that and more below.   All the changes were possible because of God's grace and guidance in my life, and none of them were my goals or resolutions for the year, which I didn't make aside from being closer to God. 


Here is a list of top five changes in my life in 2017.


5. Reduce the time spent on Facebook or following sports 


I'm a big sports fan, especially hockey.  I can watch the g and follow the debates and analysis all day.  Sometimes, I wonder if it's still not too late to become a sports writer or a hockey analyst like the ones I follow on radio or TV.  Other times, I would read and comment on sports articles on Facebook and get into debates with other Facebook users. 


While it is not wrong to follow sports, I have neglected the more important aspect of my life--being close to God.  God desires to hear our voice and see our face constantly, but He wouldn't force us if we are busy with other things--things that are temporal and not spiritually nourishing.  Imagine you invite a close friend over to your place, and instead of spending time with that person, you talk for maybe a few minutes and spend the next few hours focusing on other matters, how would your friend feel?  I never mean to "shove God aside" but to rely on Him more, so I started to set times throughout the day to worship Him with songs and prayers and read the Bible.  I'd talk to God more throughout the day, including--but not limited to--commercial breaks, so at least I'd have some level of interaction with Him.


4. Sleeping and waking up earlier


My sleeping pattern has been an ongoing battle for years. As I am not a morning person, I tend to function better in the afternoon and evening, so I would occupy myself with tasks until late night, and sometimes past midnight.  Perhaps because I strain my eyes so much, and that I have low vision, I need almost ten hours of sleep every night to recuperate.  So if I sleep after midnight, I wouldn't get up until past ten in the morning.  Over the past couple of years, my sleeping and waking up times became earlier--maybe 11pm to 9am.  For the fact that it usually takes me a while to fall asleep, even though I go to bed by eleven, I sometimes wouldn't be sleeping until past midnight, so the wake-up time became even later.


In the past few months, I have been more disciplined in going o bed earlier and avoid distractions such as listening to sports talk shows on the radio.  Instead, I spend some time talking God about the day and the next day.  This allows my mind to be more settled and my thoughts to focus on sleep instead of sports debates and analysis.  Often, I fall asleep quicker on the nights without listening to sports radio.  As a result, my mornings begin sooner (before or around 9am) and I have more time to draw near to God and get things done.


3. Take church meetings more seriously


By sleeping and waking up earlier, I become more organized and punctual for communion service on Sundays, which starts at 10:30am.  I commute on my own via transit, so makingood timing to catch buses is key.  To reduce the rush, I would get breakfast on the go, such as coffee with buns or muffin, which I'd consume while waiting for buses.  The Communion is a weekly special meeting to remember Jesus' journey on Earth, His crucifixion, resurrection, and union with us.  I used to be late for this hour-and-a-half service many years ago, but now I can count the Sundays that I was late.


Being punctual on Sundays isn't enough, however, as I needed to take other fellowships throughout the week seriously as well.  I may be physically punctual for those meetings, but sometimes I was preoccupied by sports scores and texts, and it was easy for me to check my phone while sitting near the back.  But I was reminded that being absent-minded at fellowships is worse than not being there at all, as I was distracting others around me who have more of a heart and attention to pursue Him and His Word.  Since earlier this year, I'd only use my cellphone to read the Bible during fellowships and worry about sport scores or other matters later.  I found myself to be more attentive and understand the sermons or bible studies better after the adjustment.


2. Stop agonizing on my relationship status 


As I have shared in a previous blog post, that overcoming the agony of being single had been difficult.  It surely didn't help to witness or find out about couples at my church who are around my age or younger getting married and having kids.  It wasn't until Jesus spoke to me during a phone fellowship, asking questions like were His actions from the manger to the cross and His commitment in my life not satisfying enough for me, that I realized I need to fully entrust myself to God.  Paraphrasing a Bible verse, I was further reminded later this year that I can do nothing without God, and I wouldn't be happy even if I fulfilled my desire of getting married if the marriage isn't from God.  I needed to let go of the past and lay aside the urge to be married aside and dwell in God's love.


1. Becoming an author


Coming into 2017, I had just dealt with the latest failed attempt to secure a paid job.  The job opportunity was a two-month volunteer recruiting position at the cancer agency that I had been volunteering for over four years.  When I found out that I wasn't being hired before last Christmas, I was numb.  I told God that I had officially given up on job searching.


But God was one step ahead and He had already prepared a path for me.  The day before the verdict, my case manager from the government-funded employment agency suggested me to become self-employed.  I told her that I would consider it upon knowing the result of my job application, but I didn't take the idea seriously since I had never thought of starting my own business, nor did I know what to do.  But after the job application verdict, I was ready to dive in.


After a pre-screening process--filling out a length application and developing a business plan, I was accepted to the self-employment program in April and learned to be my own boss through attending workshops.  I have chosen to be an author of Christian fiction because I have always loved writing.  I have attempted to write a Christian novel series for years ,and now I can accomplish this and actually sell them.


The ideas of turning my actual experiences into short stories and sharing my fellowship gains as blog posts were both from God, so I could let you know more about me and hope to inspire and encourage you at the same time.  This is just the beginning with many years of stories, books, and blog posts to come!


To wrap up the year...


I hope you also spend some time to reflect on the year and recall God's grace on you.  Maybe you don't have as many changes, breakthroughs, or improvements like me, but every small adjustment counts, and even if you don't remember, God will remember and will reward you for your efforts accordingly at the stage of Christ.  Everyday, we are on Earth to become more glorious for fulfill His purpose.


Wishing everyone a healthy and blessed 2018! 

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© 2017 by John Leung.  All Rights Reserved.