New Year’s Resolutions.
Did you make any?
I didn’t. I’m not a fan of making resolutions. Especially at New Years. Not to sound cliché, but they rarely ever last.
In the past, most of my New Year’s Resolutions started with little to no conviction and fell as soon as The Ball dropped. Others had the yearning to change behind them, but no commitment to make them happen. Others were Goliath-sized goals with no plans on how to achieve them, so I gave up shortly after I started.
Know what I’m saying?
So I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for making changes to improve ourselves. To being more fit. Stronger. Leaner. To making better food choices and being more organized. To be better at handling our finances and managing our time. To ditching our pet sins. To be more engaged in the church and studying Scripture more diligently. To memorizing more verses. To (fill in the blank).
What do I mean?
Revising. Remaking. Reforming. Remodeling. Change—it starts and finds its completion in Him.
But first, we must have a repentant heart and desire to change. We must possess a longing to be formed into His likeness instead of adhering to the world’s ideas and our selfish desires.
Frustratingly, we often know we need to change but are unsure of what exactly needs to change or how to do it. We get so busy looking into the what and the how, we miss the why—why change needs to happen or why it isn’t taking place.
Over the years I’ve learned when God leads me to change, it’s usually connected to His calling on my life. There’s something that needs to be refined, eliminated, or enhanced for me to be successful in His endeavor. And more often than not, habitual and unconfessed sin (such as a negative attitude, complaining spirit, or gossiping tongue) was to blame for preventing an authentic and lasting change in my life.
It was then that I realized:
But I had to choose to let Him change me; in His way, on His timeframe.
However, nothing will change when we’re comfortably tucked in the cocoon of our comfort zone; looking out at the world, coveting others’ achievements, wishing we had wings to fly. Nor will it happen by just wishing, hoping, and dreaming. I think it’s fair to say; we’ve already done that; now it’s time to take action!
Let’s start by bringing our thoughts, goals, and plans to God in prayer.
Lay your longings, desires, and yearnings at His feet as a holy sacrifice. Seek His leading and guiding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Ask for His will to be done over yours (Matthew 6:9-13). Submit to His refining, altering, or shutting down your goals for His; remember, His plans are for our benefit and welfare (Jeremiah 29:11). Ask Him to remove your selfishness and pride and to be glorified through the process.
Then make a realistic plan and seek God’s strength and presence to help you commit and stick to it, leaving room for His alterations (1 Chronicles 16:11).
Next, share your goals with other people who will keep you accountable. Share your progress and when/if God alters your plans. Gathering prayer support is critical to getting to the finish line.
Finally. Be gracious to yourself! There are going to be days things snap into place like Lego block. Then there are going to be other days the Jenga blocks are all over the floor. That’s ok! Just clean them up, restack them, and start over; using what you learned to do better this time or to guide you to a new approach. And ask God for wisdom daily, He generously offers it to us without rebuke (James 1:5).
The dominant challenge we face when striving to obtain a goal or make a life change is ourselves. But if you don’t allow yourself to make excuses and look at various sources of data to determine progress you’ll be more successful.
Remember, we cultivated our bad habits over time. And breaking those habits and relearning new habits takes time. And living in an instant culture makes this truth harder to acknowledge. We tend to want what we want yesterday. If we don’t see immediate results, we believe what we’re doing isn’t working. Then we give ourselves an excuse to give up and go back the way things have always been. Be on the lookout for this trap.
We will dig more into this in part 2.
Today, be vulnerable before God. Ask Him to reveal unconfessed sin. Ask for courage to look habitual sin head on, and then confess and repent so He can make the changes necessary to equip you for success better.