A couple of years ago, while chatting with my former pastor, he told me about a great book that he was having all of the members in the church read as they were getting set to begin a new year. He had become frustrated by the willingness, but lack of follow through, that he and others around him had experienced as new resolutions and goals were set each December.
We've all been there, with a new-found motivation to finally do all the things we think we should do. As the countdown begins, the ball starts to drop and toasts and confetti are thrown about, we actually fool ourselves into thinking that something magical happens when the clock finally strikes twelve.
Every year, I too have told myself that this time it will be different. This time "I really mean it" when I say that I'm going to read through the Bible, not once but maybe even twice this year, that I'm going to lose those pesky 8 lbs. that have crept up, that I'll really start that business I've been talking about, I'll not only get to know my neighbors but we will start playing cards together every Sunday evening, Ill take up oil painting...and on and on it goes.
Don't try to act like you haven't done the same thing because according to Forbes, only 8% of the people who make resolutions actually follow through on them. Somehow that makes me feel a little bit better but the nagging inside of me to really grow as a person, and to make some improvements in my life remains.
The book, My One Word sounded like a reasonable way to manage both the drive I felt for lasting change and the feelings of defeat for not reaching my goals. According to authors Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, "the concept is simple. Lose the long list of resolutions-all your sweeping promises to change-and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year."
So, that's what I have done the past 2 years now. The first year, My One Word was TRUST. My prayer was for God to help me to understand that He is trustworthy, that my own perceptions and beliefs are not necessarily always trustworthy, and to be able to overcome the fear I had developed through my experiences with people who had tainted my ability to trust.
The second year, I asked God to help me pick a new word and He and I both decided that even though I had come a long way in the trust area, I needed to take the advanced class for another year. What I found was that my lack of trust in so many areas was actually a major barricade in reaching many of the other goals I had worked on for years. When I was able to focus on this one area, I found success without even focusing on those peripheral struggles.
With all of that said, this year My One World is INTENTIONAL.
As I was reading through Romans 6 the other day, I came to verse 4 and it really stuck out to me. It says "Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life."
In this and the preceding passages, Paul is trying to get us to understand that when we accept Christ's gift of sacrifice and the remedy it brings to the predicament that Adams' sin got us into, we receive the Spirit of God in us. But, we can't have both our sinful nature and the Sprit of God reigning in us so we first need to die to ourselves and allow the power of God--even the intense power that He used too raise Christ from the dead--to take over.
The glitch becomes when we still choose to sin, which we unfortunately will, and the battle within our souls begins. We all know what that's like and it may seem fine at the beginning but it gets miserable the further we let it it go. Living with unconfessed and unacknowledged sin is brutal, no matter how we try to cover it up or medicate it.
The answer to this tug-of-war is that mandate to "walk in the newness of life" or to live according to our new position our new standard. Romans 6:6 says that "our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin."
If we have the ability to no longer be controlled by sin and are freed from it, why is it still such a problem for all of us? Unfortunately, I think our sinful nature will always trip us up, but we do have the responsibility to walk in the newness of life. As we strengthen our faith and allow God's power to work in us, the bondage of sin will naturally lessen and we will experience more and more freedom. Who doesn't want that for the new year? That's where my word steps in.
I so badly want to walk in this "newness of life" and to grow in my relationship with God and in other areas of my life, but what I'm finally realizing is that it takes effort and intentionality. Just like I thought that I would make these changes in my life each year just because I willed too, I now see that I have also wanted to experience lasting, significant change and have pretty much expected God to wave a magic wand over me to make it happen. After 53 years of doing this life thing, I am starting to understand that it just doesn't happen that way.
"Walking in the newness of life" takes effort, intentionality, strength, perseverance, discipline, and good old fashioned "stick-to-it-ness". Anyone who walks to exercise knows that you don't always want to get up off the couch to go do it. Sometimes its hard and requires stamina. Sometimes the weather isn't pleasant. Sometimes it seems more enjoyable to sit and eat the cookies in front of the tv. But, if you stick with it, you will get results and will be better off in the long run.
As I have thought through the areas in my life that I have spotted some weak spots, I know that to see some lasting change, I first need to start living within those areas with full intention. I figure that if I at least just keep doing what I have been doing but step it up with a little more follow through, I think I will have more success. The areas that I will be focusing on and sharing about in this blog are:
- My relationship with the Lord
- My own health and wellness
- My physical space
- My Relationships
- My Work/Ministry
- A Constant flow of personal growth
I challenge you all to choose your One Word and to let God use it to mold you into the person that He has designed for you to be.
Happy New Year and blessings on 2016!!