As we begin to set goals for the New Year, it’s helpful to think back over the last three hundred and sixty-four days and analyze what we’ve accomplished. If today were our last day to live, would we be satisfied with the way we’ve lived the last year? If not–will we change anything?

When I think about the possibility of today being my last day on earth, it dials my heart into God’s reality. I want my life to matter. I don’t want to be in heaven without my loved ones. I don’t want to be the unfaithful servant who wasted or buried the talent her Master gave her. (Matthew 25: 14-30) I want to give gifts to my Savior in gratefulness for all He’s given me. Can I make this thought last every day of the year? I can, but only if I allow God to give me a greater understanding of true joy.

God’s joy goes deeper than our own happiness. When we possess it, we are no longer driven by shallow self-satisfaction. Our physical circumstances are no longer the primary gauge for our happiness, because we discover that our born-again heart requires genuine, legitimate fulfillment which doesn’t exist apart from God. When His plan is the center of our existence, He gives us plans that make an eternal difference.

The challenge is for us to stop here, on the brink of the New Year, and really think about the difference we made—or didn’t make—last year. Are we up for the challenge to change or are we too busy planning the next event for our own happiness? God’s plan for us is beyond what we imagine and He can give us so much more than mere happiness. “He has saved us and called us to a holy life.” (2 Timothy 1:9) Living in God’s holiness is not boring or disappointing because God is not boring or disappointing. He brings us joy: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalms 28:7) Our greatest joy is found living each day in the center of His will!