Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Christmas 2009 is history. Can you believe it? The beautifully wrapped gifts have disappeared from under the tree, big bags of holiday trash are at the curb waiting for pickup, and there’s leftover ham in the fridge (not to mention leftover everything else). How quickly we’ve put Christmas behind us. In a few days we’ll leave 2009 to our memories and take the leap into 2010. And you know what that means: RESOLUTIONS — the year-end tradition of promising one’s self to accomplish something, often meaning to change a behavior (or two or three).
Do you make resolutions? I don’t. I grew weary of failing. Every year on New Year’s Eve, I would make a list and vow that by the new year’s end I would be a changed person. After a few weeks, or if I was lucky a few months, procrastination set in. I’m the exception to the rule that says it takes 30 to 45 days to change a habit. I always seem to slip back to my old ways. Maybe I’m just lazy, or maybe I don’t succeed because I’m diffident; I don’t like change, and that keeps me wandering around in circles.
It’s true, I really don’t like change. I’m skeptical of it. This last decade has been a challenging one for me. My life has changed in ways that I wasn’t prepared for and in ways that I don’t like. The one constant in these changes is that I had no control over them. The changes didn’t happen because of anything that I did — they just happened. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t take charge of them. I wondered if God was trying to tell me something. As I prayed and asked for His guidance, I came to realize that God has me just where He wants me right now. I need to be open to unexpected change — the one thing that I fear the most. I need to keep moving forward knowing that God has gone on ahead of me. He has the compass, and He is the orienteer. He knows exactly where I’m headed, and it’s my job to be obedient and to follow Him with blind faith believing that He knows what He’s doing.
It’s hard to have blind faith, especially when the changes in our lives aren’t positive, at least not in the way that we see them. Remember Job? He had it all, and then it was all taken from him. He was left sitting in sackcloth and ashes, sick, wishing he were dead. Still, he refused to curse God and die. He held onto his faith, and eventually God picked him up and gave him back his life. And remember the Israelites and their trek to the Promised Land? A journey that should have taken less than two weeks took forty years. Every step led to some sort of setback, and those setbacks often came when the Israelites’ faith wore thin. Even their leader, Moses, grew weary and lost faith. The Israelites constantly complained about their circumstances, and Moses became angry with God and was disobedient to Him. Still, after years of suffering, God brought His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. He took the most challenging of circumstances and worked them out for good.
Do you wander in circles instead of following the footsteps of God? I do. I sometimes forget that Jesus always walked forward in faith believing that his Heavenly Father was leading him. Even in the darkest of circumstances, he held to his faith. When he imagined the horrors of His crucifixion, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV) Not as I will, but as you will. Christ suffered through arduous changes, but he didn’t lose faith. He didn’t get what He asked for, but God took all of His suffering and changed it into something wonderful, not just for him but for all of us. Jesus is our example. His faith shows us how God wants us to approach the unplanned changes in our lives.
What are you asking God for in 2010? What resolutions are you making? None of us know what the Lord has in store for us. We hope for something wonderful, but we can’t be assured of it happening, at least not “wonderful” in our perception of the word. When we face unpleasant changes outside of our control, it’s easy to lose our faith that God is working everything out for good.
In truth, each trial we face is a step toward goodness. How do we know? Because Romans 8:28 says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Believing that as God’s promise to us requires blind faith.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Add the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” What is necessary this week is stepping into 2010 with blind faith in your Heavenly Father. After that, pray that He will guide you to do what is possible. And, finally, leave the impossible up to Him. Allow God to change you and to make you into whatever He wants you to be.
We pray asking for your blessings in this new year. We promise to follow you by faith remembering the words of Isaiah 64:8: But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of they hand. Amen.