While examining what to do with the New Year, many begin to make resolutions about weight, finances, job changes, travel, etc. It is, if you will, a quest for the “new you”. We look at the new year, as an opportunity to begin afresh, wash off the muck clinging to us from the previous year and throw ourselves with wild abandon into all things new.

For me, each year brings about not so much new resolutions (or old ones for that matter). For I have resolved to simply listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit daily, and not try to achieve outlandish expectations that I have set myself and try to accomplish them in my own strength. I have found that this does not work well. At least, not in my life.

I end up worse off than I was before!! Battered, broken by my failure to keep these very unrealistic expectations. What I have found is that while the Holy Spirit may, indeed, lead me to pursue a behavior or task that is difficult, He also gives me the power and wisdom to see it through to completion. This is something I just do not have in my flesh! And, quite frankly, I biff it a LOT when I attempt to live according to the ability and strength of myself.

That being said, there is one issue that I am quite certain the Lord leads me to examine every single year, actually a couple of times a year, and that is the issue of time management.

Within the course of any given year there are many changes which take place that make it necessary to re-evaluate the use of our time. There are changes that permit us more time, while others seem to drain our days of any seconds that seem to be available. With that said, it is imperative to remain flexible and examine what needs to change in fairly regular increments.

For me, this analysis takes place at the New Year, in March and in October. At the New Year, I begin to evaluate what family plans, large home projects, or travels that we, as a family, or individually, might need to pursue. I also look at which items I need to lay down and walk away from.

In March and October, I, quite literally, get out my time map and for seven days, I log how I have spent each half hour increment of my day, to see if I am actually using my time as effectively as I am able in my daily or not. You can do this by printing out or grabbing a notebook and writing down the thirty minute increments that represent your day. For me, it runs from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., as these are the hours I, typically, operate in. At the end of the seven days, analyze where your time has been spent. How long have you spent on the internet? Was it truly for business or school work? Or was most of it used in simply surfing the web and checking your friends stats on Facebook?

What I have found, as I have done this exercise, is, inevitably, something resembling the sucker branches on my fruit trees has sprouted up and is trying to suck the life and fruitfulness out of the attitudes, projects, etc. that I am supposed to pursue.

These “sucker branches” masquerade as quite “important” things, but, in the end, render whatever they touch to be fruitless. Or in the very least, lacking the  vigor that they could have had. Similar to fruit on trees where the sucker branches have not been removed, the “fruit” of my day is small and lacking in substance and the flavor is much less vibrant than it would have been had the sucker branches been removed. (And did you know, that if the branches and the tree itself is left untended in that state, it will eventually die, for the sucker branches are not there to produce fruit, but to drain life.)

We are much like these fruit trees, we are here to be productive, fruitful, and to glorify the One who created us. If we do not take time to stop and evaluate our life in light of changes, which have occurred or, more importantly, in light of what God, Himself, may have for us, we begin to be unfruitful and will eventually wither, producing no fruit at all.

It is IMPERATIVE to remove ALL sucker branches, for the sake of the life of the tree! It cannot do what it was created to do, if it is struggling just to live.

SO, in light of where we are in life, what is God spurring you to take up? What is He asking you to lay down? Remember, He is ever the gentleman. He will never force you to do what is good for you, but He does promise the power to do it, if you will but seek Him and ask…and, then, DO IT.

Will you take time to ask God what He has for you this year? And will you take time to listen? Just as an encouragement…He just wants a willing heart. He provides all the power and the will to do His good pleasure, if we will submit ourselves to Him and all the good He has for us.

What sucker branches are draining the vigor and fruitfulness out of your life? Are you willing to forsake them and walk away for your own good? You can, you know…in HIS strength. He has given all who call upon His name all we need to live a godly life in Him.

I am seeking Him toward this end, today, and will share soon what He shows me.

Will you let Him show you how to use your time, today? You will be free and fruitful, if you do!