Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Pressing Ahead in the Year 2014
The year 2013 quickly slips away and we see a new year coming, whether we are ready for it or not. As the ball gets ready to drop and 2014 commences, how should I look at the past year and all it brought? For some people, the year 2013 had great sadness. For others, it may have spelled financial disaster, or the loss of a relationship, or illness. I found I had a mixture of conditions this past year. I choose today, though to look back at the circumstances of my life with a redemptive review. I can either be hopeless or hopeful. It depends on who I am looking at. If I look at myself, I quickly get hopeless. I know that in and of myself I have nothing to boast about, no bragging rights. My life is not wrapped around being in a certain social status, or my own particular claims to fame. But that is OK.
When I accept that about myself, I can then look away from myself and look at the One who lives inside me. With Him, all things are possible. (Luke 18:27)
If I believe in God the way I say I do, I do not need to be going backwards regretting the mistakes of the past. God knew every single detail of my life way before I was ever born. He knew all the trials, all the stupid things I would say and do, all the problems before there ever was one of them. He let them happen anyway, even if it was through a fault of my own. This fact gives me great comfort. Nothing in my life ever took God by surprise. He has never been disappointed in me, because He knows I am but dust, and that I can do nothing by my own power that will be of any use to Him or His Kingdom. It is only Him living inside me that can produce a work acceptable in His sight.
The Apostle Paul had every right to brag about his status as a Pharisee before His salvation. As he so beautifully writes in Philippians 3:4-14. "... If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in HIM, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is in God by faith;that I may know HIM and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed into His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Do you see what he is telling us? We do not have to be tethered to the past, the mistakes and failures and clinging to our own human understanding. No, we can have a fresh start for this coming new year. And if we mess up in the new year (as we surely will) there is always a fresh start every time because God in His infinite patience had His Son pay for every infraction we ever did or ever will commit. That is why Jesus Christ is our very best friend, the friend that sticks closer than a brother.(Proverbs 18:24) No other man or religion can offer mankind what He does: total forgiveness, making us brand new creatures (II Corinthians 5:17) and mercy that endures forever. So, in 2014 I do not need to make any kind of promises to myself, promises I will surely break.
No, I just need to get more and more of Christ. More of His Word and His thoughts inside me. More prayer and communion with Him. As John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3: 30) For only when I am filled with Him am I truly happy.