As the New Year approaches I am sure to be among countless millions who will be reflecting on the past year and formulating resolutions for improvement for the upcoming year. Like the short lived season of charity manifested just before Christmas, we find within us a desire to clean house and make self-improvement adjustments on the last few days before the new year begins. Our motives may be different-maybe you don’t like the way you look at the beach, or maybe you are weary of the burden of your job or finances. Whatever the reason, New Year’s just seems like the time to proclaim change for the year ahead. For many however, it’s a time of disappointment as we reflect on the resolutions we made for the soon to end year and come to the annual reality check of our lack of resolve to follow through with what seemed at the time like good resolutions.
Maybe this was the year we were going to learn to play a new instrument. Or perhaps this was the year to finally get a grip on our finances and pay down our debt. If you’re among the majority, this was probably the year when you were going to lose that extra twenty pounds you’ve been carrying all year long but were suddenly most aware of after the food-filled holidays. Whatever your list may have included, I’d bet we all fared about the same-poorly! I saw a statistic lately that said most of us manage to keep only 8-10% of our New Year resolutions. Ouch!
The desire to improve one’s self is admirable and understandable. Most of us want to be better at who we are or what we do. As a Christian believer on a life long faith journey, that desire to be better seems daunting when considering our ultimate example. And whether of the faith or not, the realization of how far we have to go in light of where we want to be seems unattainable, like the perfect golf game. No matter how low a score you shoot, you can always do one stroke better, and you may spend your entire life striving to reach for something that is simply out of reach. We are all in the same boat when it comes to letting ourselves down through self reflection of broken resolutions.
And yet I am encouraged when I consider the lives of the great names of our Christian faith, the Prophet Elijah, King David, Peter the Disciple and the Apostle Paul, author of most of our New Testament. These are men who at times in their lives failed miserably, even after witnessing first hand the miracles and the magnitude of the God they served, something most of us can’t comprehend. The Apostle Paul confessed to his own shortcomings, doing what he knew not to do, and not doing what he knew to be right. But in the end, these are the men and the examples that we try to emulate as we approach Christ, the supreme example. Finding myself in such company of those who fell short at times in their walks gives me courage and resolve to keep walking and keep striving for my own betterment without fear of occasional slip ups. The revelation that each year we’re given on Earth is merely a step in a long journey should keep us motivated through those times when we let ourselves down.
We serve a God who delights in our earnest attempt to be the salt and light of the earth, even thought He knows we will fall so many times like a child learning to ride a bike or stay up on skates. When we fail he showers us with mercy and helps us back to our feet, over and over again with the grace and patience only a loving Father could posses. Like Paul, who admitted that he wasn’t yet where he needed to be in Christ, we keep striving for the higher calling, knowing each year we may not get it all right, but staying focused on the journey by not being distracted by our recent failures.
Who can be like Christ? Who among us can adequately display the goodness in our lives that He illustrated for us as He walked our Earth? Daunting? Absolutely! Achievable? Hardly. But with grace and mercy and forgiveness we can look back on the promises we made to ourselves last year knowing that if He who is perfect cuts us some slack for our low scores, we should be as forgiving for our unmet resolutions. And it is in this spirit of grace that I can prepare my list of resolutions for the New Year and continue my journey to be the husband, the father, the grandfather and the man God wants me to be, always trying my best but knowing I’ll be expected to fall off the bike at times. My resolution this year? Lots of prayer and a good bike helmet! Happy New Year!