Thank goodness our Lord takes and accepts us as we are, unconditionally with all of our baggage, dirty clothes, failed resolutions and human rationalizations to “be good” as defined by the world. When one of our Bridges grassroots training participants comes to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus through hearing the Stories of the Bible in their mother-tongue in one of our Bridges training events, it’s so inspiring and encouraging to see the unbridled joy and hope they have when they become a new believer and new creation in Christ. I’ve seen it first-hand and they are literally glowing with the light of Christ in them. They are ready to begin the journey of growing in the Grace and Knowledge of our Lord and Savior over the coming days and years. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are truly a new creation in Him and He wants us to be conformed to His son’s image, to truly be transformed. That’s stated very clearly in His scripture:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
As a believer for over three decades now, I’ve come to acknowledge that it is very difficult (okay sometimes it feels impossible) to change our patterns, routines and habits, we have accumulated as humans over a number of short years on this earth. Let’s call it a relatively short lifespan on this earth – if we are fortunate and blessed with good health – we might live to be 80-90 years of age. The Kiefer men in my family usually reach close to 80 years of age and then pass into Glory soon after. With all of my sports injuries and hits by mean middle linebackers, hard-hitting safeties and Goliath size lineman in my days as a college quarterback, I will be fortunate to reach the age of 70 (Lord willing).
So how many patterns and sins of old behavior can I change in this relatively short life span? How is this year going to be different from last? What will be different so that I will not make the same mistakes and same failures as I did last year or the year before?
I want to be honest. I don’t want to lead any of you astray with a false sense of confidence as I start this New Year. I will fail again. My flesh wars against my spirit are a consistent daily battle that leaves me worn out and wondering when I will truly “turn the corner” in the right direction towards a commitment I made. I really struggle with falling back into old patterns each year and lacking the discipline to see a promise through to its end. I find on those days when I don’t seek spiritual guidance from His Holy Spirit, when I don’t spend time with Him, and I run off into the world without seeking Him first, I fail much more often than not. If I had followed through on a previous year’s commitment to write in my journal each day about the scriptures ( yes, another failed attempt from last year), I believe a statistician could track or link my logged devotional time (journal time) to changed patterns of my behavior over the years as the scriptures have taught me. Spending time with the Lord is the best thing we can do in our lives as His Holy Spirit intervenes and guides us through our lives.
With that said, please consider making one of your New Year’s resolutions or whatever you might call them in this modern day of social media phrasing (fresh inklings, new starts, new beginnings, new initiatives, new projects, etc.), to spend more time each day mediating with Him and being in His Word. Commit those times to him daily, weekly, monthly, in the morning or at lunch or at night….and maybe at this same time next year…one of your old patterns of behavior will be GONE. I’ve seen it happen before and that might be the difference for you this year.