New Year, New You? What About New Life?!
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
As usual, year-end rolls around and the entire world is compelled to reminisce on all of the events that have occurred in the past year. For some of us, this is a great reflection; for others, not so much. This is the time where we all take note of some of our successes as well as our failures: things that we were exceptional at this year, and things that we could definitely serve to improve upon in the new year. Honestly, I’m not much of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions; although I do know that with the right intentions and the right heart, they serve to be great motivators for change. So, I will not knock them altogether. However, I still believe in the greatest motivator and true agent of change – Jesus Christ. With God’s grace, we are made perfect in Him. That’s why I love the gift of God’s grace and the blood of Jesus Christ versus my own efforts. There’s just something about grace that makes you want to strive for greater – and not from your own strength (Ephesians 2:8). Tried and true. Tested and approved. A New Year’s Resolution paired with the God of grace is the best combination ever. Because you will not complete that resolution on your own. You just won’t. And you know it, right? Because you’ve tried it before.
Just last week, I met with one of my dear friends in Christ (and a blessing from God might I add) at Starbucks, and we just talked. The talking led to sort of a reflection of the year, and I was asked how satisfied I was with my (complete) life at this very moment in time. Hmm…well, if we’re being honest here…(seconds of silence). So I guess…well… let’s just be honest: My 2014 was a whirlwind. And it began that way on January 1st as I was driving home from church and New Year’s service. If I had’ve known what the Lord would take me through in 2014, I would have ran the other way. (Thank God we don’t know what the future holds; for we would try to mess that up too!) It was a year of very painful lows, short-lived highs, several traumatic events (in one year), constant and never-ending praise and worship to the Holy One, a tremendous spiritual growth expansion, doubt, fear, and even questioning of my belief for a brief period along the way, a prayerful season and year where I grew in my intimacy with God, a year of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and God’s presence in many ways…to put it simply, it was a year of adversity. It was also a year of preparation, cultivation and growth, pruning, consecration, sanctification, and spiritual elevation. I just didn’t know it…or couldn’t see it in the midst of all of the mess. Until it all came back to me near the end of the year – when we usually tend to reflect on it.
So I look at my life and I am forced to evaluate several things here: How satisfied am I with my relationship status? With my financial stewardship? With my personal development? With my spiritual life? With my family? With work and my career? With church and ministry? And the list goes on. So I ponder, and I am appalled at what I’ve discovered: Everything in my life this year fell apart so that God could pull me to closer to Himself. My spiritual life (personal to me and my Heavenly Father) was the only thing that I came out with this year. Stronger. And it has grown exponentially. I had so many plans this year. But God’s plans triumphed over them all. And I’m happy with that. God is sovereign, and His timing is perfect. Yep. That’s pretty much all I can say.
Notice I mentioned a “tremendous spiritual growth expansion” as I described my 2014 earlier. Indeed it was. This was the highlight of my 2014, and really the one thing that truly matters in the grand scheme of things. I have grown so much in the knowledge of my Father’s Word that it amazes me. And I don’t say this to brag; I say this because it was God alone who pulled me to Him during one of the darkest years of my life (this year). I could have turned away from Him. Instead, I turned to Him. I won’t say that I did everything right…no, not at all. There were several painful things that He revealed to me about myself along the way, and I am grateful for His love shown through His correction. I also won’t say that I did not question Him and have doubts along the way, but I kept my faith. He’s preparing me for something. And I don’t know what it is, but I do know that it’s something amazing. Because He would never have me endure a year like this one and not have a plan and a purpose for it (Romans 8:28-29). Can I be frank with you? I died over and over again this year. This is what the Christian life is all about though: losing our lives and dying daily (Luke 9:24). Suffering for the cause of Christ. My prayer life and my intimacy with God increased. He put me in a position where I had no choice but to depend on Him. And I did.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
We have been crucified with Christ. I remember telling a brother in Christ earlier this year: “I feel like Job.” (Have you read the book of Job? It is not uncommon for children of God to go through periods of suffering and adversity. And the enemy can never touch a child of God without receiving permission. So trust me, it all works for our good.) Man, this year was tough though. Tough is an understatement. So while everyone is talking about how they haven’t found the love of their life and they want him or her next year (I’m not hating, I’m just saying); or how they didn’t jumpstart that business and this is definitely on the agenda for next year; or how they didn’t make the money they wanted to make in 2014 and they pray they will next year, I’m over here praising God for bringing me through 2014 in one piece. I could have died – several times. But God kept me. That’s perspective. So as you write your New Year’s Resolutions this year, write them from a different perspective. Write them with a perspective of thanksgiving. Write them from a perspective of joy. Write them with a heart of repentance. Write them knowing where your strength and your help comes from. Write them from a grateful heart for the gift of life. Write them knowing that if you put your faith and your trust in Him, He will not fail you.
So what are some things that I do have planned for 2015 (knowing ultimately that God’s plans are greater and He has the final say)?
First of all, God loves that we plan. I’ve been in planning mode for a while now. He loves that we prepare for certain things in our lives and we make an effort to be better stewards, better givers, better examples of His love, better workers, better servants, better spouses (and future spouses)….all of this. I’m not telling you from this post not to plan, but just keep in mind that God’s plans are always better than any plan we have for ourselves. Stay open to what He has in store.
I must admit that I haven’t done this in years (written down resolutions, plans, whatever you want to call it), but I’m doing it this year for the sake of this blog post! This is what I have planned for 2015 (and Lord-willing, it will happen):
1. By God’s grace, I plan to develop a deeper love and admiration for Him and His Word. I’ve grown so much and I just want to grow more. My deeper level of reverence for Him and my intimacy with Him is something that I may not have ever gained had I not gone through what I went through this year. So I plan to continue that next year and for the rest of my life.
2. By God’s grace, I plan to be a published author in 2015. I am passionate about writing. It is a talent and a gift given to me by God, and I have used it and still use it to help so many others in my daily life and career. But I want to reach the world with the Gospel through writing. I don’t want my talent to be confined to just one area of influence. He has been positioning me for this moment, and when the time is right, the time is right. When that time comes, there will be no denying that my gift and the vision He has birthed in me will be His doing and not mine.
3. By God’s grace, I plan to do a little bit of traveling in 2015 for book tours and to minister through the gifts that God has given me. I plan to use my talent for writing as a way to reach souls, change lives and families, and point people to Christ. This will allow me to step out of my comfort zone (I’m more of an introvert), and also begin to build more godly connections.
4. By God’s grace, I plan to really take my health seriously, fit exercise into my schedule, and start taking care of this temple in other areas (watching my diet and the foods I eat, etc.). I plan to do this not to lose weight, but to be healthy. And not just for a season, but as a lifestyle. And not to look fine in a swimsuit in the summer time, but to glorify God. Haha! Our bodies are temples of the Lord, and we should be committed to taking care of ourselves in every aspect of our lives as God desires us to. I know this is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions, but I want to be different. I know this is going to take more than a profession; it’s going to take a true commitment. We can’t neglect our health. We have to honor God and take care of our bodies.
5. By God’s grace, I plan to continue honoring Him in mind, body, soul, spirit, and speech. It has been almost two years since I’ve vowed to remain celibate until marriage (pure in body) – and I have kept my vow to God through His power. I have erred in other ways within those two years (mind and speech), but I’ve also asked God for the grace to help in those areas – and He has always come through.
Because I know that God is sovereign, those five plans cover enough for me right now. Of course I see myself married in the future, but I’m not putting this down as a plan for 2015. He is preparing me, and when the time is right…you know the rest 🙂 Of course I see myself in ministry (I’m actually active in ministry now), but I know the full plan and picture will be revealed in His timing.
We have to make sacrifices for Christ, not just New Year’s Resolutions. The Lord says that if we suffer with Him, we will also share in His glory. What have you sacrificed this year? What are your plans for the new year? Can you stand to sacrifice more in the new year? Can you give Him more of your time? Can you devote more of yourself to Him? Can you read the Bible more? Can you honor Him with your life and your body? Whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, don’t do it without God. If you are new in Christ, continue to grow in Him. If you have not been made new in Christ as the opening scripture in my blog post mentions (2 Corinthians 5:17), I pray that you seek Christ today. Really seek Him and commit to making 2015 a better year spiritually, physically, financially, and emotionally. God Bless You. I love you. Happy New Year!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Thank you for following my blog. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance to you in your spiritual journey by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Blessings!