It’s that time of year again—that time when we naturally start taking an assessment of how our year has gone, and an inventory of the goals we both did and didn’t achieve over the course of the year. How does that make you feel?
Every year we seem to start off the same way. New Year’s Day comes and we are filled with anticipation, excitement, and resolve to make this the best year yet. Frequently, somewhere along the line, our motivation or perhaps our momentum gets suspended. Often, we mess up and give up believing not only have we failed, but we are a failure.
Sometimes years don’t go as we expected, and challenges arise that demand our immediate attention. In the past year, changes in my business, as well as a new cancer diagnosis, brought a change in focus that I couldn’t have anticipated last January first. We can either fight the interruptions or embrace them as part of God’s plan and seek to learn all He has for us to learn in that season.
At the New Year, perhaps it’d be useful to look at things from a new perspective. While the calendar seems to prompt us to make goals and resolutions for the upcoming year, I wonder if we lose sight of what is already happening, and what has already occurred.
God knows in advance the good plans He has for us.
As someone who follows Jesus Christ and strives to make Him the guiding force each day, we can take comfort in knowing that while we don’t know what the future holds, He knows the good plans He has for us in advance.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Surrendering our plans to God.
It’s a comfort knowing God already has plans for our future, and those plans are good. As we look to the new year, we can rest in peace knowing that God has already begun doing something new in each of our lives. Rather than planning and striving to make things happen on our own, a better approach would be to surrender our plans and make note of the direction God is already taking us.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). And the great thing is, we don’t have to wait until the start of a new year to watch God work!
One of the problems I have with New Year’s resolutions is that they almost always seem fully dependent on us, creatures who are so flawed that we need resolutions. In our own strength, we will continue to stumble and fall. When we do, the enemy is quick to rush in and remind us of our failures, when the Word of God says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), and “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Whether we make and keep resolutions, or we struggle to become more Christ-like each and every day, God still loves us the same.
Focusing on what Christ has already done and secured for us.
Rather than focusing on making and keeping resolutions, perhaps our focus should be on what Christ has already done and secured for us. The very last thing Jesus said when He hung dying on the cross was, “It is finished.”
“When Jesus had tasted it, he said, ‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and released his spirit” (John 19:30).
Jesus came, died, and rose again to put to death our sin—all those things that result in resolutions (gluttony, addiction, lust, selfishness, etc.) were conquered on the cross.
When Jesus declared, “It is finished,” He paid the price so we don’t have to.
Worry, fear, and anxiety are finished.
Illness and unhealthy living are finished.
Poverty and lack are finished.
Dread and overwhelm are finished.
The question is, will you believe it, receive it, and live like it from today forward? In our own might and our own strength, we will continue to stumble and fall. But nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), especially those things He has already paid the price for.
Rather than setting off fireworks, or drinking a toast, on New Year’s Eve, we should spend time remembering what Christ has always done so that we can live the abundant life He came to give. Observing the Lord’s supper would be a perfect way to usher in a new year:
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26).
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’”(Matthew 26:26-28).
Jesus himself has invited us to come and dine with Him at His table and celebrate what He has done for us. When we spend time in His presence, with a heart of thanksgiving for all He has done for us, those things that are usually the focus of resolutions will no longer contain their power. Jesus already paid the price. Will you receive His gift?
May you have a blessed year, as you live in the freedom Christ died to give.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“There are many fine, worthy, and insightful books written about depression but in my view, Dr. Bengtson’s trumps them all. Our first step of making it to the other side of the valley of depression may well be falling into the competent and compassionately written words of this God-honoring book: Hope Prevails.” ~ Marilyn Meberg, Speaker, Women of Faith
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