There is always a lot of talk about new year’s resolutions. It is a time to start afresh, a natural time in the seasons and our schedules to begin, to start over, to initiate a change. I have set goals and you probably have too. Usually sometime in October I begin to think about goals for the next year and after Thanksgiving, I usually start to get serious about planning. But this year, I do not want to make resolutions but refocus. Why?
In my own strength, I do unfulfilling things. I need the supernatural in my life. Let me explain what I mean. I tend to review every year—successes and failures. A failure I am not proud of this year, but want to learn from, is that I turned to my own strength and own strategies to accomplish God’s plan for my life. The cumulative result was a hardening of my heart that I do not like which in turn resulted in a clouded relationship with God. This year, I do not want to set new willpower resolutions that I will wear myself out trying to force myself to finish. No, I need to refocus, to turn and return as my pastor says, back to God.
The thing is God calls to an actually simple life. Now it is simple but not easy. But the entire point of Christianity is to trust God for everything. To trust Jesus’s blood alone as the cancelation of my sin’s judgment, to depend on the Holy Spirit indwelling me for the power to live and serve in a way that pleases God, to rest in God’s provision despite my prosperity, suffering or circumstance. That is simply total abandon, surrender of all my cares and even my own life’s value over to God. It is a simple concept to understand, a simple message to share but O so difficult to embrace.
Perhaps, like me, you often identify with the Apostle Peter: I get excited about what God is doing and run ahead and make a strategy, sticking both feet in my mouth, getting frustrated in result and in broken proclamation of the Gospel see God graciously stoop to use my pretty messy attempt. Yet, Jesus looks at me, and like Peter, says do you love Me?
Then, despite my brokenness and past, Jesus bids me three times (because of my self-pity, strong-will, and hard-headedness) to refocus on putting Him first and to feed His sheep.
But Lord, I’ve failed. How can you still want to use the gift you put in me?
My strength is made perfect in weakness. Share in my sufferings. This present trail is nothing compared to the joy that is set before you and this thorn is for keeping you humble, near to my heart. It is a blessing with a pinch.
This year, Lord, help us to refocus. Lord, may we long for and enjoy Your presence. May we cry out to You in prayer to work through us to bring Christ to others. May You melt our hard-hearts. Lord, take away my long to-do list and replace it with the daily bread that I need. Lord, may You be pleased.