New Things Coming

It’s a new year! The time of new hopes, new dreams, new resolutions …

… and too often, within weeks, the same old business as usual. Whatever system is used to measure the success rate of New Year’s resolutions, everyone agrees that it’s dismal–probably ten percent or less. And the general public, including the most ardent of resolvers, knows it. Just Google “New Year’s Resolutions Jokes” and see how universally it’s taken for granted that here are the rules most made to be broken.

So why do we keep making them? Perhaps because everyone desperately craves a sliver of hope amid the pessimism that seems to reign virtually unchallenged in society. Perhaps because we want so badly to believe that our lives can change for the better. Perhaps because the human spirit instinctively resists the idea that being stuck in a rut, or continually on a downward trajectory, is just the way things are meant to be.

And you know what? The human spirit is right. Nowhere in Scripture does God instruct us to sit around despairing ourselves–or the world–as hopeless. Certainly our own sinfulness and imperfection–not to mention the problems in the larger world–are real and will be formidable opponents as long as this life lasts. But if we focus constantly on the negative, we risk blinding ourselves to the positive, even subconsciously seeing evil as stronger than good. I wonder if a lot of “end times” thinking isn’t actually based on the suspicion that God is weaker than He is–that the world has gotten so out of His control He can’t do a thing with it anymore, and the only option left is to liquidate everything.

Larger-society concerns aside, it’s amazing what God can do with us as individuals. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). So why do we so often, frequently on the tail of the very times we were most enthusiastic about changing, come out feeling like the same old creations? Where most of us slip up is in depending too much on ourselves–“leaning on our own understanding” cf. Prov. 3:5–for both planning and executing change. We look for the problem that is causing us the most trouble, rather than asking God where He wants to start. We copy the planning systems that work for others, without considering whether those systems fit our uniquely created personalities. We look to our own natural strength for the bulk of the work, tiring ourselves unnecessarily and denying ourselves the blessing of seeing what the Holy Spirit’s strength can do in our weakness.

Are you ready to release control and experience the new things He wants to do in your life in 2014?

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