Wake-Up Call: Quotes for the Year Ahead

Dec 27, 2023
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I love a great quote. Whether in a movie, a book, or even a bumper sticker, a comment that brings interesting, funny, or creative new insights is always welcome. All the better if it’s seasoned with humor. Like the comment made by homebody Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

However, the best quotes are the ones that call us forward through inspiration or by waking us from complacency. Two quotes I came across in 2023 did just that.

First, blogger David Cain condensed some ideas he read from professor/author William Irvine into this statement:

“You always know when you’re doing something for the first time, and you almost never know when you’re doing something for the last time.”

Think about that for a moment. It’s so true, and so compelling. As you watch a loved one head out the door in the morning, what if that’s the last time you ever see them (at least, on this side of heaven)? As you leave a favorite vacation spot you’ve gone to year after year, what if that’s the last time you ever visit? 

The second quote is from a Daily Citizen article:

“By the time your children turn 18, you’ll have, on average, spent 95% of all the time you’ll ever spend with them.”

Wow. For parents of kids still under roof (and for grandparents, aunts, and uncles, for whom the math is surely similar), that’s a startling thought, isn’t it?

While we raise our children to set them free, and it’s exciting to think of all that lies ahead for them, so much of a parent’s life is wrapped in their kids. As the father of one child in college, one about to go, and another not far behind, it’s sad to think that this intensely busy, sometimes stressful, endlessly meaningful season is coming to a close. Or at least that it is about to change in very significant ways. 

As melancholy as these quotes may make us feel, they’re also motivating. They’re a wake-up call to not take life for granted, to love people well, and to regularly acknowledge all that we have to be grateful for. Those seem like good perspectives to carry into the new year.

If we “have not love…”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

At my mother-in-law’s memorial service in 2017, our oldest (then just 14 years old) delivered some memorable comments. He noted his grandmother’s patience when he and her other grandkids would slide noisily down her staircase in a heap, playing “barbarian stairs.” He remembered her many words of encouragement and warm hugs. Then he closed by pointing to one of her character traits that stood out to him most of all. 

After reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which tells of all the wonderful things we could do with our lives, but that if we “have not love” will all be meaningless, he paused, looked up, and said very movingly, “Grandma had love.”

When we breathe our last, may the same be said of us.

“In all circumstances...”

In today’s world, it’s easy to allow our spirits to be colored by complaint. To live with a sense of dissatisfaction, as social media greatly amplifies the consumerist messages, “You don’t have enough” and “You’re not enough.”

Standing in stark contrast are Paul’s exhortations recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We’re called to live differently, to be a force for good in what is often a very dark world. When Jesus said He is the light of the world (John 8:12), we get that. It makes sense. However, He said that we, too, are the light of the world! “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

In a world filled with so much criticism and negativity, to live with gratitude is to bring light.

At the start of a new year, it’s tempting to think of all we will do in the months ahead. But what about who we will be? Because of our relationship with Jesus, and mindful that our time is short, may we love people well and live with gratitude.

Written by

Matt Bell

Matt Bell

Matt Bell is Sound Mind Investing's Managing Editor. He is the author of five biblical money management books and the teacher or co-teacher on three video-based small group resources. His latest book, Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management, was published by Focus on the Family in 2023. Matt has spoken at churches, universities, and conferences throughout the country and has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, and many other media outlets.

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