Red-Headed Step-Holiday

Is there any holiday that calls our attention to the progress (or lack of it) made in life more than New Year’s? Probably because New Year’s has no other purpose other than to remind you that time is still moving in the same direction it always has – the holiday is just a marker. Other holidays have meaning attached – Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas – they’re all reminders of people, events, or ideas. Not New Year’s. Caught in the shadow of Christmas, no one seems to talk about the “New Year’s season.” Whereas most of us will attend half-a-dozen Christmas celebrations in a given year, almost everyone chooses one place, one event, one venue to welcome in the New Year. And without any other meaning to reflect upon, most of us think primarily about the time – how fast it went by, what in the world we did with it, and how we can do something better next year. Small wonder people drink in the New Year.

 

It causes us to number our days. And we should. We should be aware that we’ve been entrusted with a life to live. Are we living our days in worship and intimacy with our Savior? Are we loving the world the way Christ loved us? New Year’s Day is a great time to meditate on some of that.

 

We had a dinner today with about a dozen leaders from our church – karaoke ensued, naturally. But it was really encouraging to think about some of the things that have happened in the lives of students this year. Unconfirmed reports, but I hear a guy that’s been coming to our church for a few months very faithfully recently dumped his girlfriend because she gave him an ultimatum between her and Christianity. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my wife and I got several amazing notes from students about some of the changes the Gospel has made in their lives. But when I walk down the streets, I’m still surrounded by students that have never been heard the News, never been to our or any other church. How many years will it take to let them all hear?

 

If you’re like me at all, you spend New Year’s thinking about what a loser you’ve been all year, and how you’re not going to be like that next year. Our response is to psych ourselves up, aspire to “do better,” and futilely plow into the New Year, only to discover we’re much the same person just a couple weeks later. The truth is, if you rely on the same power source this year as you did last year, your battery will run out at much the same place. Only the power of the love of Christ (Eph. 3) within us will enable us to change our lives. Resolution without grace will lead only to frustration.

 

So what does resolution with grace look like? First of all, it takes out the fear of falling short – I’m not loved and accepted by God because of the quality of my efforts. If you’re “success-oriented” at all, the thought of failure terrifies, sometimes paralyzes you. Second, it changes my motivation – I don’t want to change to make life better for me, rather I want to change to make my relationship with Him better. My desire for success becomes desire for Him. Third, it has a different confidence. Instead of chanting “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it,” it rests on the knowledge that He has already been and done everything I should. And that’s the power within me. If I give control to Him, there will be no shortage. Last, its methods are different. It doesn’t just recommend buying a planner with more colored dividers than the one you got last year or getting a tattoo of your resolution. Instead it declares that Jesus is the answer. Our failures are all a result of our distance from Him. If you’ve made a vow to change your life and left out worship, don’t hold your breath waiting for change.

 

So much for my “write shorter blog posts” resolution… Happy New Year’s Day to you all!

One Comment on “Red-Headed Step-Holiday”

  1. Peggy February 14, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    I realize its February 14th, but this blog was EXACTLY what I needed at this time. Not so much about resolutions, but of fearing failure in service to God. It is a sanctification that is so on-going and never arriving!! Sometimes its hard NOT to fear that I’m NOT doing HIs will. Thank you.

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