It happens every year, to everyone, almost as if it’s a right of passage. The calendar changes and we make a promise to ourselves that things are going to be different. We look at our lives and find the things that we believe need to change in order make our lives better over the course of the upcoming trip around the sun. Based on what we discover, we create long lists that usually include basic things like eating better or exercising regularly along with other, more personalized, additions. While these goals aren’t bad in and of themselves when we don’t meet them there is often an acute sense of failure. That’s where New Year’s resolutions can become a problem. In a sense we allow these expectations to become the standard by which we live and judge our quality of life. We allow our failure to meet these goals to become the definition of who are instead of seeing them as a momentary setback. I want to suggest a couple of things that I think will help us begin to move past this annual cycle:
1. See yourself the way God does
With the advent of social media we have an unprecedented amount of access to the personal lives of those around us. Often this access is used as a way to degrade and insult, especially when failure is present. This can be especially painful if you are sensitive to the words and actions of others. The apostle John tells us to “consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us – He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is”. (1 John 3:1-2, The Voice) What a comforting thought! For those who follow Christ, God loves us in spite of our failures! The apostle Paul expounds on this thought in his letter to the Romans where he tells us that “if we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory”. (Romans 8:17, The Voice) As Christians we have everything that we need in Christ, now and forever. We’re his kids and our greatest failures won’t change that.
2. Remember that sanctification is a process.
One of things that I’ve noticed about my life here in the US in contrast to my life when I was overseas is that I tend to be very impatient. It’s probably part of the reason that I enjoy fast food so much! I know what I want and I want it now. The apostle Peter encourages us to “grow in grace and in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus” (2 Peter 3:18, The Voice) but the problem with that is that growing takes time, something that many of us don’t have or, more often, don’t want to set aside and commit to. Paul recognized this in Romans 12:1-2 when “in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies” he pleads with us to “offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete”. (The Voice) Becoming more like Christ not only takes time, it also takes effort. It’s a lifelong process of God working in and through us that will ultimately find its culmination when we arrive in heaven.
A year from now this season will roll around again. Between now and then resolve to allow God to do the work and simply agree to do whatever it is that he calls you to. You won’t always like it and you won’t always get it right but with a more heavenly perspective it’ll be much easier to navigate the shortcomings.