I’ve grown to dislike New Year’s resolutions. I used to make some fine ones in my younger days only to have them turn to dust by the end of February. Since I’m allergic to failure, I decided to ensure my success by simply not making any resolutions. Problem solved. Or was it?
Now that a few more new years have come and gone I have discovered something unsettling. I hate when that happens. It recently dawned on me that I stress myself out staying on that constant treadmill of self-improvement. I had traded once-a-year resolutions for minute-to-minute striving. That can be such a joy zapper. Now, before you misunderstand and think I believe improvement is a negative thing, please read on.
Perhaps like you, I am well aware of my weaknesses. I see the areas in my life which fall short of Jesus-like behavior. Whenever I get one area under control I immediately jump to another flaw. I plot, plan and look for ways to navigate the road to self-improvement. I can easily drive myself crazy trying to become a better person. Then it hit me like a sack full of broken resolutions. I didn’t need self-improvement, I needed God-improvement! If I could just relax and let God take the reins He would surely lead me to places of refinement. Some destinations would grind and polish, while others enlightened and refreshed. But the final result would prepare me to stand before God and hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The best part of this deal is that God created my master plan, His Son did all the work and I just have to be willing to go where the Spirit points His finger.
I’m certain He recently pointed me toward an article by Rachel Olsen in the Proverbs 31 magazine detailing her way to meet the new year. Her approach is to come up with just one word to become the focus of the new year. She suggests praying for God to lay a word on our hearts to help filter out the unnecessary things that tend to steal our joy. Her plan connected with my newfound revelation. I wanted to let go of constantly pushing myself by learning to relax in being led. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on self is the opposite of focusing on God.” (Romans 8:5-6, The Message) So, what’s my word for 2013? RELAX! I plan to relax my striving, my mind and my need to control. I think this is going to be a great year!
What about you? You may have this relaxing thing down pat, but struggle in other areas. Pray for God to define your focal point for the year and let’s be ready to share some amazing stories come December. So, what’s your word for this new year?