Give Him Your Year
I have always been inspired by the glimmer of a new year. To me, a new year is an opportunity to start fresh, to do something new, to form excellent habits, to give yourself a make-over – the list is endless! Anyone who is selling something, whether a product or an idea, is often appealing to the desire we have for new beginnings. I would like to appeal to the reason we have this desire.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t list all the resolutions from my youth, however entertaining they may be! One that sticks out in my mind, probably one of the most common, is the resolution to work out regularly. Experience taught me that goals or resolutions don't work when the boundaries are vague. So I made a specific plan, and I stuck to it! I think the success made me feel good, and so does exercise! The alternative also compelled me to persevere, because when I don't exercise regularly, I feel like a blob. Every day I could attain the goal of exercising regularly whereas the goal of losing weight or getting in shape is more elusive. Despite what you might think, this article isn’t about exercise or body image. I wanted to provide an example to demonstrate that new year's resolutions can be attainable and positive. Committing to regular exercise has been so helpful for me; however, the media, in all its forms, is trying to convince us that we need to change for the wrong reasons.
This time of year we face an onslaught of lies under many guises. The lie out there is that you aren't good enough yet. We don't need to exercise because we aren't good enough! We may need to exercise because it keeps us healthy and helps us feel good. We don't need to go on a diet because our bodies aren’t perfect or good enough. We need to form healthy eating habits to improve our health and wellbeing, NOT because you aren't good enough yet.
The best way, in fact the only way, to combat lies, is to equip yourself with the truth. So what is the truth in this area? Am I good enough? To be honest, it's a little complicated. The reality is God made us good, very good in fact, yet we have all fallen short of the glory of God. So what do we do with that? We need to realize that it isn't about us. What? How is it not about me? It's my life! It's my body! It's my future!
My perspective on new year's resolutions changed when I realized: IT'S NOT ABOUT ME.
I grew up a Christian, but I didn't always live a Christian life. There came a moment in my life when I realized God doesn't want lukewarm Christians. He wants all of my life for the rest of my life. The Lord invited me to be all in. Saying yes to that invitation has been an absolute adventure and dare I say love affair. And, it never ceases to amaze me that the Lord continues to call me deeper. So whether you are not a Christian, a new Christian or an old one, I have a word for you: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.
The title of Oswald Chambers’ well-known devotional sums up my point here, the Lord invites me to give "My Utmost for His Highest." Am I giving my all for myself or for the Lord's glory? God asks me to give everything, to give my very best, not so I can be a better person, not so I can be good enough, but so that I can GLORIFY MY CREATOR! That is what the Christian life is about, laying down my life, denying myself, picking up my cross and following Jesus.
So, how can I follow Jesus in this new year?
Ask the Lord: How can I glorify you? How can I serve you? How do you want me to follow you?
Believe that He will answer your questions. He will.
Be still. Invite God to be present with you. Listen to Him.
Start with a particular area you are finding difficult. I find it helpful to focus on one thing at a time (it's easy to get overwhelmed when you start thinking about all the things you want to work on or improve). Ask the Lord, what area do you want me to focus on? Prayer? Reading the Bible? Loving others? Your attitude? Your health? Start small and set a tangible "SMART" goal (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-sensitive).
Surrender to the Lord all the ways you are tempted to focus on yourself. Don't get me wrong, self-knowledge is good, but self-focus is an impediment to the Christian life. Surrender all that you think you need to "fix" about yourself. Let the Lord lead you and you will grow in the ways He desires. Surrender your desires to the Lord – even if they are good ones. God's are better. When we surrender, we are truly free. Let go and put everything in God's hands…whatever it is. (Try it right now.)
Put your energy into what God wants you to do for Him, not what you want to do for yourself. Ask Him what that is (do it now) and remember:
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. [Philippians 4:13]
God created us in His image, to give Him glory and we have all fallen short of the greatness He intended us for. We are all sinners. But I have good news for you! The Lord is all about new beginnings. Consider Noah, consider Abraham, consider Moses, consider Jesus! In Christ you are a new creation. If we desire a new beginning, if we want to be a new creation, we need to find ourselves in Christ, hidden in Him. If I seek to find my life, I will lose it, but if I lose my life for His sake I will find it.
God has a purpose for you. He has a plan for your life. It is a good plan. He is about a good work in and through you. He created you very good and He won't leave you hanging! He is inviting you to live your life for HIM. Will you say yes?
If you want to say yes, then ask the Lord to help you to become the woman He created you to be. Ask the Lord to reveal His plan to you and give you the grace to follow Him. I believe that when you are committed to living for the Lord He will provide what you need. God is a good loving Father!
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? ... But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. [Matt 6:25-26 & 33]
Give this year to the Lord. Offer it to Him. Dedicate it to Him. Make it about Him. Give Him your plans, give Him yourself. Seek first to build His kingdom in your heart and He will use you to build His kingdom with your life. Pick one thing to focus on. You will be surprised how far the Lord can bring you if you focus on one goal well.
A new year’s resolution doesn’t have to be a new goal. It could be a renewed commitment to a conviction the Lord has already given you. For example, the past year or so the Lord has been bringing me back to one theme embodied primarily in three scriptures. The Lord has called me to JOY. When I ask the Lord how He wants me to be joyful, He speaks to me and He brings me to these three scriptures:
You will show me the path to life, the fullness of joy in your presence. [Psalm 16:11]
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. [Philippians 4:4-6]
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]
The Lord has called me to live a life of joy by living in His presence. The Lord is always with me. He will lead me, He will show me the path to life. The Lord is my true source of joy. I need to rejoice in Him and not let my circumstances rob me of that joy. Instead, when my circumstances get rocky, I need to stand firm on Him, my Rock. I need to ASK Him for help and give thanks for what He is doing. It's about Him.
Jacqueline is joyfully married to her husband, Peter, and so grateful to be staying home with their three children. She attended The Ohio State University, where she studied Human Development, Family Science and Spanish. She became an active member of Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO), a Catholic group on campus. Being a part of SPO has shaped her understanding of and the way she lives out her Christian faith, especially with regard to daily prayer, scripture, relationships, continual conversation, community and relational evangelism. After graduating, she worked for YouthWorks-Detroit and later worked for Kairos. Jacqueline enjoys making her home smell like fresh baked bread or curry and eating both. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors, exercise, play guitar, paint and read. She is passionate about building God's kingdom. Jacqueline resides in the beautiful state of Michigan and is a member of the Work of Christ Community, a community in the Sword of the Spirit.