SUNDAY December 29th, 2008
"That was the longest church service I've ever been to" my nephew told me after church today. He and his family were visiting from out of town, and I had the blessing of having him for an overnight at our house and then after church getting him back to his parents. I smiled at him in empathy and amusement. When you're young and restless, long isn't good- unless it's a long night of video gaming! But when you're older and hungry for more, long can be good. A long service can be like a long soothing backrub for tired achy muscles- no one wants that to stop.
I love Christmas time, but like many, I am okay with it ending- the season of shopping, and wrapping, and cooking and shopping. But that's why I love the period of time between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For me, this is a time of anticipation. For others, it's a time of excitement or ...dread.
For some, the dread is because of the dreaded resolutions- "I have to make a resolution". So some will immediately think of pounds needing to come off, exercise that must be done daily, or a new healthy habit they need to now employ in their life. No one is relishing the work that comes with the resolution.
Maybe one reason why people fear making a resolution is because they know they are not resolute in what they're about to attempt. We know we easily turn back when the going gets tough because hey, when the going gets tough and the tough get going...we find ourselves often with the group that is not "going". We decide we are not made up of that kind of strong fiber- as though we were made of soft fluffy wool, instead of steel.
I have not forgotten a lot of the insight that came to me when reading Dr. Augusto Cury's book, Think and Make it Happen. And I am not forgetting what I am learning about Fasting, after having read Jentezen Franklin's book. The two can go hand in hand, and the one word that can join these two seemingly dissimilar books is the word Breakthrough.
Breakthroughs occur when ground breaking revelations and sweat producing actions and heart thumping mental resolutions combine together and culminate in something NEW. Yet in spite of how we clamor for the new, we avoid it. New terrifies many of us. "We follow the same schedules, eat the same food, drive to and from work the same way, follow the same patterns of communication with our spouses and children, and meet our needs with the same solutions. In other words, we do not live life very creatively," writes Dr. Cury.
And Jentezen Franklin would contribute his agreement -"Anybody can be normal. Normal is overrated. Someone has to say, 'But I want more! Lord, I'm hungry! I'm going to have to push tradition aside! I'm going to have to push religious rules aside!" He says this because when we fast, we are doing something out of the norm. I would add that maybe we are being creative when we fast. Not that we're intending to be creative by going on a fast- but we have broken the routine, the daily norm, and we are breaking through to deeper communication with God when we fast. We are creatively communicating with Him in the newness of hunger and unfamiliar physical weakness, and with a mind that is starting to clear and a spirit that is magnetized more to God's heart.
Today as I sat in church, I suddenly realized that this year, the new thing for me is that I am not going to make any New Years Resolutions. This could be the first time ever that I am not making a list of resolutions. But there will be Resolutions, make no mistake about that. It's just that I am not creating them.
These Resolutions have already been written for me in Scripture, and I see them now in a whole new light. For instance, "I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be ashamed" Isaiah 50:7 declares. That's a resolution. I've decided that should be my resolution as well. I didn't write it. I didn't author that thought. God did. But God wants that to be my resolution.
I think God has a number of important resolutions for me. They are HIS resolutions. He is resolved that His children should know His love and His mercy in a whole new way. He is resolved that we should not live as orphans. He is resolved that redemption and renewal should occur in our lives. I am in agreement. Or at least, I want to be in agreement. I want to join in with His New Year's Resolutions for me. He even has New Day Resolutions for me, because every day that I wake up there is new grace, fresh hope, a new slate.
So my journal is devoid of New Year's resolutions this year, as far as resolutions that I compose, dream up, decide upon. I've asked God to let me join in with His work not only in the world, but His special work He is doing in me. He has resolutely declared so many truths in His Word about who He is, what I should know, how I should know Him, that I don't think its wise for me to come up with New Year's resolutions of my own. He's written resolutions that come from His heart, flow out of His will, and are meant to touch my life in such a way that they become my own resolutions.
I'm resolved. I've set my face like flint. I'm strong in Him. I'm not going to be ashamed. And that's just a few that He's speaking to me about. Let the New Year come. It's going to be a good one.