I Am Going To / I Will Never

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As I type this article, I am watching a group of children playing whisper down the lane. As they whisper something from one person to the next, sometimes the message gets to the end in the same fashion as it was originally formed, at times it doesn’t. And then I think about the many who are saying things like this year I am going to… The list of stuff people fill in is practically endless. And yet as day fades into day, the resolve begins to change. The dieter that has determined to lose some weight might say, “I am going to skip desserts until I reach my goal.” It can quickly become, “I am going to have one desert a week,” or later, “I am going to have one dessert a day.” Fairly soon many of the resolutions become nothing but cheap talk. So, what is the difference between a failed resolution and a completed one?
Life doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle of being annoyed by how I was in the past, deciding I’m going to discipline myself to do otherwise, and soon after realizing (or maybe not even noticing) that I’m doing it the same as I was prior. So what then is the difference? There are changes that people accomplish by sheer will power, but I believe many of the favorable changes come about when one feels the call of God on His life. God has a way of reaching out His finger and touching an area in our lives and asking for change. If I am one who has surrendered my life to Christ and is accustomed to having my ears in tune to His bidding and hands practiced in reaching out for His grace, my story doesn’t need to be this way.
“And he said unto me; My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2Cor 12:9,10). So many resolutions are about what I want for my life, not what God intends to do with my life. When I instead set out to do something because of God’s call on me to do it, not because of personal agenda, not because of my capability or my image; my weakness becomes strong. God’s grace empowers for the things he calls us to. When I am ready to face infirmity, reproach, need, or persecution at God’s bidding it is then I start learning something about the strength of God. When I finally get focus off of myself and what I am going to do, it is then that the power of Christ can rest on me.
I’d like to turn the discussion around for a bit. Sometimes instead of saying, “I am going to…” one might instead say, “I could never…” or “I will never…”. For example, one I hear frequently is, “I could never move my family to the city!” If God called you to minister to the people of the city would you not claim His promise of strength in your weakness? Would you mire yourself in the murky waters of evaluating such a thing through your physical eyes and powers of reasoning? Would you not allow Him to rest the power of Christ upon you? Would you not believe that he can take away your “infirmity” if He decides? When one comes to grips with the fact that it is me in the way of seeing the strength of God, then good things start to happen.
If taking down last year’s calendar and putting up the new year’s calendar inspires you to recall what you did with the past year, then take some time to think about it. Ask God the question, “What would you have me to do differently in the future?” And when he brings to mind something that your “infirmity” doesn’t allow you to do, be prepared to say, “Yes, God,” as you reach out for His grace. When the going gets tough, expect God’s strength to be sufficient to fill His purposes in your life.
As we move into a new year, don’t waste your time making empty resolutions. Do allow God to speak to what He wants you to work on in your life. And don’t wait until the end of 2017 to evaluate your life again! Take inventory regularly. Allow God to show you the shortcomings. Then claim His grace and power and God is going to do good things in you.