There’s a social media trend (yes, another one) where people are posting their “Ins” and “Outs” for the new year. For example: In – more quality time with me; Out – less time with people and places that aren’t right for me. This is a relatively benign illustration, but the gamut of this trend is wide and far reaching.
I’m certainly not against using a new calendar year as an opportunity to reflect and review your life choices. There is value in it, if you’re willing to exam yourself honestly and not simply externalize responsibility for any areas that aren’t going well. It’s very easy to point the finger at other people or situations rather than studying what role you may be playing in any given problem. Of course, there are times and circumstances where it truly isn’t your fault. But (and I realize this may be a hot take) I venture to say with most people those instances are few and far between.
As children we are limited in our ability for autonomy. We are too young and inexperienced to make important life decisions. Most of us will defer to our parents or other adults to guide us, steer us along the way. Once we become adults, however, the bulk of responsibility (and, therefore, accountability) lies with the one whose face you see looking back at you in the mirror each day.
If I’m not content with my career status, I have to first look at what I am doing or not doing to gain access to a better situation. I have absolutely spent time complaining about work conditions over the years. I was discouraged. I wasn’t getting the recognition or compensation I deserved. Yet I kept working there, in some cases, far longer than I probably should have. Can I fault my employer for that? I chose to stay working there. I could rationalize that “I had no choice. I had bills to pay.” That was true. I had to work, but where I worked was a different story. Sure, sometimes there weren’t many job openings in my field, so my choices were limited. That didn’t mean I had no choice. I just may not have liked my options. And if I simply chose to not even look for another position, then I had no one else to blame for my discontent but me. The employer might not have been doing the right thing, but neither was I. I wasn’t doing anything and everything I could to change my status.
That’s just one illustration. But I think you get the point.
Most of the time, we don’t have a great deal of control over what’s happening around us. We do have control over how we respond and position ourselves. So, I’m all for making a “fresh start” in the new year, provided it includes an honest self-examination of your strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t rely solely on yourself for change.
I guess in 2024 that statement might be considered a hot take too. I mention it only because I’ve lived it, multiple times. I decide to make a change and I’m fired up about it. And that lasts for a while, until it doesn’t. Even if I have support from friends and family, sometimes I hit the wall. It gets too hard, or it’s taking too long, or any of a number of discouragements come my way. If I’ve been moving solely in my own strength, eventually it will run out and I might drop out.
I am so grateful I don’t have to do that anymore.
There is a God who loves us so much He sent His Only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. His love is so great, and His desire to be in close relationship with us is so real, we don’t have to be alone.
Now, some of you may be saying, “We can’t see God, so we’re still alone.” With all due kindness and respect, I must tell you that is incorrect. An analogy I’ve often used is how we can’t see air, but we know it’s there. And once you come into relationship with Him, He is as vital to you as the very air you breathe. (I won’t go down this rabbit hole now but consider this: He’s the reason you’re still breathing. Yes, your body is performing the actual activity, but who set up that mechanism? Did you determine your first breath? Will you determine your last? But I digress.)
Wouldn’t it be great to make a fresh start with more confidence in and assurance of the outcome?
Let me be clear, you are still accountable for your participation. When you ask Jesus into your life, it doesn’t mean all your work is done. As I’ve said before, the Bible isn’t Aladdin’s magic lamp. You don’t rub it and Genie Jesus comes out and grants you three wishes. Instead, you enter into a joint venture. Obviously, He’s the senior partner and should have the final say. Yet you will have input; you will be making decisions.
Letting God into your life doesn’t mean you don’t have free will anymore.
God never wanted little zombies and mindless drones. He gave us the ability to think and reason. He desires for us to choose Him and His way in all things. But He doesn’t love us less if we don’t.
I’ve just learned that my understanding of any situation is grossly limited. I’m not all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is. So, why wouldn’t I want to include Him in every area, especially when I’m resolving to make changes?
It can be scary to give up any control, to trust in Someone you can’t see. I completely get it. But here’s the beautiful part. He gave us His Word (the Bible) to help us learn to trust. We can read and see time after time how He was faithful, constant, and unchanging.
When you partner with the Lord, you’re putting your trust in the One who never changes.
Other people, even those we love and who love us, can and will disappoint. There may come a day or time where we put our trust in them, and it doesn’t turn out well. Things and people can change.
God doesn’t and He won’t!
Don’t believe me? Wonderful, you know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)
So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them, and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Psalm 102:24-27)
Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7-8)
If you don’t know Jesus, or you’re skeptical, I get it. There are a lot of distractions and alternatives put before us each day. Some may even say we’ve moved beyond the Lord. We don’t need Him anymore. (I don’t recommend standing too close to them; however, you never know when lightning might strike. But I digress.)
What I’m suggesting is this: Try God.
You know what’s it been like attempting to change on your own. You know what it feels like when you stumble, when you fall. Wouldn’t it be good to know what it feels like to have the Creator of the universe be there to help pick you up? What if He was there before you stumbled and alerted you to the pitfall ahead of time? What if you listened and avoided a disappointment altogether?
I want to close with this verse which speaks so powerfully of how we believers feel about the Lord. Check this out:
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)
God is real. Jesus is real. The Holy Spirit is real. Invite them into your new year, into your life, into your heart. Let 2024 be the year of real change.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.