Editor’s Note: This article was originally written at the beginning of the year, but we are bringing it back to the forefront of the site to check in with our readers and to ask the question: “How are your resolutions going?” No matter what you answer to that question, this article will encourage you to press on toward your goals for the year.
So here we are at the conclusion of the first month of the new year! As the river of time swiftly moves onward, it persistently carries us downstream in the currents of change whether we want it to or not. Since we’re already wet, why don’t we come to the surface and see how far we’ve drifted off course.
Let’s take a quick peek at our New Year’s Day resolutions. How are those panning out so far? I wonder how many of them will aimlessly swirl around in the eddies of our busy lives, to the soon-to-be casualties of the daily grind. Maybe our plans are not completely out of reach yet, but they could definitely be on life support by now.
Many of you may be thinking, “Who has time to remember all those declarations? The year has barely started! Friends and family have finally left after the holidays, and I’m only just now getting settled back into my routine.”
Fair enough. I feel your pain. You are not alone. If you’re like me, you haven’t even gotten used to writing 2016 on stuff yet. Still, if our resolutions are starting to flounder, maybe it would be a good idea to look at the foundation upon which we’ve built them. (Hopefully it wasn’t that sandy beach out near the “river of time.”) So let’s check to see if our goals were based on the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit. Were we led by the self-will or His will?
This year I took a different approach and sought the Lord’s guidance through prayer and meditation on Him and His Word rather than self-interests. For me, becoming a licensed addiction counselor was an idea I had often toyed around with, but never really gave serious consideration. So as the Lord revealed His will–that I pursue further education to achieve His goal for me–I became resistant at first. I’ve done this many times in the past, fully preparing myself to reject the authority of God. To me, my arguments always seem to be sound. “Lord,” I prayed, “I’m headed to prison for a long time, maybe for life. What good is a license going to do me?”
With further prayer and a little reflection, it hasn’t taken a huge push to remind me that when I’m in charge of things they don’t often work out for the best. Certainly this is the time for me to listen and do rather than argue and complain. No one promises us that these things will be easy. The blunders of the past can be a bitter pill. Nevertheless, with my new resolutions from the Lord firmly in place, I remain hopeful for the future.
You don’t have to be in a situation like mind to become sidetracked or willful. That’s just how life is sometimes. We’re busy people doing what we consider to be important stuff. I like how Paul says it best, “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Rom. 7:15).
There is little doubt that our flesh creates a conflict over the Spirit. We experience this not only in our New Year’s resolutions, but in daily life as well. Isn’t it true that when we focus solely on the things of the flesh, we allow ourselves to be governed by the things of the flesh. (See Romans 8:5.)
Don’t wait for tomorrow to make those much needed changes in your life. The time is NOW! Jesus tells us: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41) Be aware of this weakness, and let us find strength in the Lord who provides all things.
I know that this is off topic, I tend to bounce around for no apparent areason sometimes. (Call it slight ADD if you wish.) In any event, I wanted to share with you the snapshot of the week. I like to call it, “The move of my life.” Occasionally I will witness something so astounding that it has the tendency to rudely slap me upside the head and make me take notice.
This week a young man barely in his 20s came from the court laughing and joking about the huge sentence handed down to him. I don’t know if it was bravado or indifference, but just consider for a moment if you will: how spiritually bankrupt do you have to be when 15 years in prison doesn’t phase you one single bit? It’s these kinds of things that really put some of my more trivial problems in their proper perspective.
I would like to urge each one of you this week to pray for more intercession of the Spirit, that Christ Jesus will reveal Himself in the lives of young men and women who are imprisoned:
Dear Heavenly Father, You are the source of all our strength and hope. Open our hearts to received Your divine will. Lead us out of our darkness and into the everlasting light. Cause us to turn away from all fleshly desires as we walk the path according to the Spirit in Christ Jesus. Lord, let your Word reign in the hearts of all young men and women who are in prisions throughout the world. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“[I] am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:20)
Your brother in Christ,