You didn’t really think I’d let 2014 go by without a final post, did you?
It may be slightly corny, but truthfully I’m too much of an organizer for there not to be a good chapter closing for 2014.
Christmas was great. I would say it was perfect, but my granddad had to stay at UAB a little longer than expected so we didn’t get to have the Marshall family Christmas Brunch like we always do. Nonetheless, it was a great celebration. I don’t think I’ve ever fully realized how special Christ’s birth is and how amazing it is that our Savior and King humbly entered the world. Or maybe I have, and I just remember it as though it’s new every year. I mean the fact that His Majesty could be wrapped up into a tiny baby born among animals in a cave… wow. Just wow. So humbling.
The weekend followed with more wedding celebrations. This time I headed to Tupelo, where one friend got married to his sweetheart and another friend began the celebrations leading up to the wedding to her sweetheart. It just so happened that both parties were in Tupelo. I’ve never even been to Tupelo. It’s crazy how things work out. Anyway, both parties were absolutely deeeelightful and I’m overjoyed for both of my friends. (Not to mention, it’s kinda cool to have all these weddings juxtaposed with Christmas. It’s like, I have the opportunity to give thanks for how Christ entered the world to live humbly and save my life, but I’m reminded to prepare for the day He comes back in all His glory for His bride!)
I never quite imagined ending the year on this note. Actually, I really didn’t envision myself to be where I really am right now, 12 months after the fact. You see, I saw myself in a new job somewhere, perhaps preparing to enter into a new covenant of my own, and following a path that I had deemed “normal” or a life pattern that was “regular”. (Not to say that anyone who is currently in a new career or getting married is regular, or plain. Of course, each person’s plan is unique to them. But a lot of this is happening around me). Needless to say, I am at the very opposite of the spectrum from where I imagined myself. No job –yet– and definitely no where near getting married myself. To add to the “never saw myself doing what I’m doing now”, none of the marriages that I’m celebrating had been announced by engagements yet this time last year. It’s just crazy how much can be packed in 12 little months.
But this morning I remembered something as I was reading my devotional for the day. My resolution for 2014 was grow closer to the Lord. It was simple, but important. And that certainly happened this year. Praise Jesus for that.
Then I started thinking about what I wanted this year’s resolution to be. However, coming off the heels of quite an unpredictable year I just wasn’t sure about what kind of goal I wanted to set. To get a job? It’s pretty clear that I’m doing what I can about that already. To get fit? I’m 2 years strong in that category (pun intended). To get organized? I have so much stuff that I’m beginning to need another closet. It’s as organized as it’s gonna get for now.
The truth is, I kinda don’t like New Year’s resolutions. For instance… the “get fit” goal totally irks me. I get to the gym, see the “resolutioners” that I know will only be there until about mid-March, they aren’t there for the right reasons and they just crowd the weight room, and I want to tell them to leave. (My selfishness confession of the day for you). I mean I totally get that as humans, to set obtainable goals helps us stay on track and stay motivated. That’s good and fine. However, they can also set us up for disappointment. Like those poor gym resolutioners don’t know that they’re making things difficult for themselves because they aren’t working out correctly, resolutions without the right solution are nearly useless. In terms of spiritual resolutions, it can be overwhelming too.
But just as I was thinking about all that, the Holy Spirit in His sweet whisper came through gently. He said, “My mercies are new every morning, not just on New Years”.
And just like that, my New Year’s reflection completely changed. How awesome is that?
New Year’s is cool because it’s nice to be able to summarize what’s happened in a year and reflect on everything that’s occurred. I love to watch those videos on YouTube that combine all the popular music of the year into one mix (even though I don’t really listen to pop music very often), simply because it reminds me of what each season brought forth in under 5 minutes. (I’m a nerd, I know). But set the worldly stuff aside, and we’re left with this idea that there’s one day out of the year to set new goals and start over. That’s completely NOT the truth!
The truth is, with Jesus in our lives, every day is like New Year’s. I’m not saying that we can completely fall off the cart every day and come back the next and say to Jesus “can I have my mercy for today?”… that’s not a genuine love for our Savior. That’d straight up be a weird relationship. But what it does mean, is that when we set our goal to become closer to Jesus, we don’t have to dwell on mistakes made because He wipes the slate clean for us every day. We ask for forgiveness, strive to be a reflection of Jesus, and pursue Him, and we rely Him, then He will be faithful and provide for us and give us a new day, every day.
I realize that this is a simple concept, but it brings so much hope! I had a friend talk with me other day about some of the struggles they have been encountering in their walk with the Lord. Basically it rounded out to be about how, at times, our hearts can know that we need Jesus and we want to seek Him, but there can also be another corner of our heart that is hearing the enticing temptations of the Enemy (whatever they may be) and it keeps us from wholly living for God. It’s scary to think that there is a force working to tear us down, and make us want what isn’t pure and whole and good. And what’s worse is to think that even with our determination to resolve and make new goals for the year, on our own we will still fall short. We will still encounter difficulty and not meet that perfect standard. We’re human.
BUT (and what a wonderful “but” this is), if we seek Him, and acknowledge the parts of us that aren’t pure, and we tell the Lord about it and give it to Him, He has this wonderful thing called grace that covers it and He conditions our souls and hearts to desire what He desires. Then we begin to want to live like He would live. And our actions become reflections of the work that is being done in our hearts. We can’t do it on our own. We have to give Him the opportunity to help us. Even though fear might creep in that we might fail, don’t let it! With Him, we cannot fail. One of the most popular scriptures is Phillipians 4:13- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. That is what that scripture directly addresses (not athletic ability… sorry y’all, although He can help that, too). With Him, we can become more like Him.
And eventually, our life begins to look like what’s written in 2 Peter: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
So as you’re setting your goals for this year, you might need some encouragement like me. And if that’s the case, then just remember that His mercies are new every morning. 365 days a year. There’s nothing we can do to separate us from His love. Although we may fail, He lifts us up. What peace that brings!
I have no idea where I’ll be this time next year. If life has taught me anything, it’s that anything is possible. There are truly no limits on what God can do in our lives and what He provides us with. Obviously, I hope I’m in a good place, but if I define “good place” as in-step with Jesus, then I’m confident that He will be with me. And if He is with me, then… well, you get the gist.
As we walk into the New Year, I can’t really say that I have any resolutions. However, I do have prayers, and they go like this: I pray that the Lord softens my heart and keeps my ears tuned into His spirit at all times. I pray that you (my dear readers) experience His presence daily and that your hearts are softened as well. I pray for our strength to face our battles this year and that we will be victorious through Jesus. And I pray that we may never lose faith.
2015 will have it’s challenges, but with Christ Jesus as our pilot, at the helm of our ship, in the driver’s seat, we can only come out of it victorious! Hallelujah for that!
Happy New Year my friends!