You’ve probably heard some version of the quote, “It’s not how you start that matters—it’s how you finish.” Indeed, the Bible confirms that we are all a work in progress; we are clay on the Potter’s wheel (Isaiah 64:8). As God continues to form us, each day is an important step along our journey. Each day grants us the gift of 86,400 seconds to use that we will never get back. To make the most of God’s gift of time, I wrote these questions as a benchmark to help us finish the day well.
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1. What do I need to give over to God?
For a good night’s sleep, we need to pray our concerns over to God. The Psalmist famously depicts how God guides him beside the still waters in Psalm 23. God offers each of us rest through refreshing stillness with him. Some things are too big for us to do, and some concerns are too heavy for us to manage alone.
By entrusting our concerns to God, we acknowledge the ample power and tender mercies of our trustworthy Shepherd. Repeat these words before you sleep each night to affirm this truth: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NKJV).
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2. Did I do something outside of my comfort zone today?
That’s exactly what so many people in the Bible did. They weren’t perfect, but they were willing to step out in faith. While it may be easier to stay within our comfort zone, we squander a precious opportunity.
God can use calculated risk, or the risk that he is calling us to take, to grow our faith and dependence on him, infuse our life with adventure, and further his plan for the world. One of my favorite Bible verses, Joshua 1:9, reminds us to be brave: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” If you’re interested in learning more about risk, see my new book on life purpose, which includes essential information on the risk worth taking and end-of-chapter Bible studies to help!
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3. What remains to be done?
A to-do list often hits me at the end of the day—maybe it does for you too. Once the house is quiet and my children are asleep, my mind naturally takes inventory. I have learned to sleep with a pad of paper and pen beside my bed because of it. That way, I can write down any important items that I missed, and sleep with the confidence that I will not forget them tomorrow.
If we do this, we’ll awake with focus while also remaining open to God’s lead. Proverbs 16:9 states, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
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4. Is there one thing that I could personally improve upon for tomorrow?
Truth be told, there are probably many things that we could improve upon, for no one is a finished product. Those who often make the most progress in their life purpose however, are those who choose to refine their signature strengths rather than focus upon their weaknesses. Along that vein, it can be helpful to choose one thing each day to improve upon.
The New York Times bestselling author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, advises his readers to simply get 1% better every day. This bite-sized challenge can make a monumental difference in time. The Bible echoes the fruit of persistence in Galatians 6:9 by stating, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
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5. Is there one thing that I could do to better the lives of others around me?
Comprehensive growth doesn’t just involve ourselves; improving the lives of others is part of our purpose as Christians too. We are united by faith as the Body of Christ, and when one part suffers, the other parts do as well.
Recent news in America has emphasized how important it is to not only believe—but also live—the truth that we are all beloved by the Creator and made equally in his image. We can bring change to large issues through single steps, especially when those steps are aggregated among all believers.
What is one thing that you did today or could do tomorrow to further Christ’s work in the world? Jesus identifies his mission in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
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6. Do I need to ask someone’s forgiveness before the day ends?
It’s not always easy to ask for forgiveness, especially when we’re still riled up. Take some time to calm down and regain your composure first, if needed. My husband’s grandparents were married for over fifty years, and his grandfather often said that one important marriage secret was to never go to bed angry.
Scripture concurs. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Whether it involves asking for someone’s forgiveness or simply praying it in your heart, set Jesus’ healing into motion for a good night’s sleep. Ultimately, the one he’s really freeing is ourselves.
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7. What am I grateful for today?
Any minute of every day is a great time to be grateful. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I’m convinced that gratitude is one of our most essential spiritual muscles. It grows faith, protects a hopeful heart, and inspires our praise.
Further, when we remain mindful of the goodness of God in our lives, it opens the door for God to do more great things because we’re looking for them. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
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8. Have I taken the time to practice self-care and listen to the Lord?
With the myriad of things that can come at us each day, often demanding immediate attention, it’s easy to overlook two important responsibilities—our self-care and connection to God. We cannot fill anyone else’s cup for very long if our own is leaking.
As the Wellspring of Life, God knows just how to fill us back up. Jesus states in John 4:14, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Don’t go to bed parched. We should never end the day without honoring who we are and how much God loves us!
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Originally published Thursday, 18 June 2020.