My social media has been full of people posting their Spotify 2023 Wrapped in the past couple of weeks. If you haven’t seen it, Spotify collates your year in music through various statistics: your listening minutes, genres, most listened-to songs, artists and more. It even suggests where people in the world listen just like you. Apparently, my listening habits are similar to people from Lynchburg, USA.
Reflecting on my year in music led me to consider the ‘2023 Wrapped’ of my Christian life. God doesn’t send us a funky graphic with background music, but he does give us his word and his people to help us reflect on how he has been at work. Rather than considering your 2023 Wrapped in terms of minutes and artists, below are three simple questions you could work through yourself or with others.
What have you learnt from God’s word this year?
The Psalmist describes God’s word as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psa 19). God’s word nourishes his people and also shapes them as a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). I find it challenging to articulate things I’ve recently learnt from God’s word. But while I can’t remember what I had for dinner last week, but I know it nourished me! However, the end of the year is a good time to think back to what I’ve learnt throughout the year. What are the meals that have shaped and sustained me?
There might be things you’ve learnt through your own reading or through meeting with others. Maybe there is a Christian book that has had a significant impact on you this year.
It is one thing to consider what you have learnt from God’s word this year, but the next step is to consider how that has changed how you live. Paul exhorts Timothy to ‘watch your life and doctrine closely’ (1 Tim 4:16) since the things we learn about God are not just for the sake of knowledge but for living God’s way. Can you see how God has moulded you to be more like his Son in word, thought, and deed?
How have you seen God answer prayers?
Each year, I try to get better at writing down what I am praying for on my own and in various prayer groups. This is to help me look back at the end of the year and see how God has answered prayers. Even when I have not been good at writing things down, I can look back through my calendar and remember things shaping my prayers at various times.
These little things help me to put Paul’s words into practice: ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thess 5:16-18).
I can rejoice in the big and small prayers God has answered throughout the year. But I can also continue to persevere in prayer where God’s answer might not yet be apparent. I’m not sure what your year has been like, it can be hard to be thankful. These words of Paul come at the end of his letter to the Thessalonians, where things have been far from sunshine and roses (1 Thess 1:6). Even as the Thessalonians have faced suffering and persecution, Paul reminds them of their great hope in Jesus Christ. Whether your year has been full of answered or unanswered prayers, you can look to Jesus Christ and be thankful.
How have you seen God at work in the lives of others?
It is good to be thankful for how God has shaped you by his word and prayer, but it can also be a great encouragement to reflect on God’s work in the lives of those around you. You could draw some concentric circles to reflect on different spheres of your life. How have you seen others grow in Christ at home, work, church, another community, and the world? How have you seen the gospel going to those who didn’t yet know Jesus? Through your evangelistic efforts, efforts of those you know, or mission organisations you support and pray for?
I pray that taking time to reflect on these questions has been as good for your heart as it has been for mine. Maybe you could turn your reflections into a prayer of thanksgiving to God. You could send these questions to your Bible study group to share and pray as you finish the year together. Just as people share their Spotify 2023 Wrapped, maybe you could share your reflections with a Christian brother or sister to keep encouraging one another as we wait for the Lord Jesus to return.