It’s New Years Day—about 1:00 a.m. to be exact, and I’m being tempted to make resolutions. I rarely succeed with New Year’s resolutions no matter how determined I feel on January first. For years I lived by resolutions and determination with pride or despair quickly following when I succeeded or failed. However, I’ve rarely experienced change on January first. Usually it comes unexpectedly during the year because I’m traveling down the road in the right direction.
The New Year is always appealing because it feels like an Extreme Makeover is coming; you have a new slate. But for me, new beginnings take place many times a day every day of the year as I change my mind about something and seek God to help me—whether it is diet or attitude, exercise or habits. For me, new beginnings are for January 2nd, when I mess up and January 3rd when I mess up big time. Each time I get a new slate.
When I go to Christ in repentance for having blown it, I also go to fill my cup of forgiveness, hope, and grace. It’s a well-worn path filled with promises like Psalm 62:1-2 (NSAB), My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
But too often our view of God hinders us from running to the source of daily hope. I’ve had a picture of God (who looks a whole lot like my mother) with his clinched fists on his hips fussing at me. My new and more biblical view of God is one in which He invites me to go for a walk with Him, and there he loves me, blesses me, and reminds me that my sins are forgiven because Christ came and died. There He tells me that as I continue to walk with Him, He will gradually change me. It’s more like learning the habits of a good friend than a one-day extreme makeover.
As I walk with my friend in silence, discovering His patience, kindness, and mercy, I become like Him—not completely—that’s for another day, but a wee bit, with lapses of failure doused with extra grace. It’s not a cheap grace, because grace was very costly to God, but it is a dependent grace—and God loves for us to be dependent on Him, it’s to His glory when we are.
I believe it was Eugene Peterson who said, “The Christian life is a long walk in the same direction.” So, if there’s something to resolve, it is to wait upon Him and walk beside Him listening to the voice of love. Then if I detour, to come back quickly and receive his grace freely.
Rats, I went and made a resolution anyway.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18 NASB)