Monday, January 2, 2017

Starting 2017

It's that time of year again.

We open our eyes in the morning and firmly tell ourselves that it's time to open our Bible and read, and to pray.  We wander around the house, admiring and then taking down the Christmas trimmings. We sit in the recliner and try not to notice when the chair creaks more than it did. We stand in front of the fridge and look at the salad makings, and tell ourselves we need to eat those, more than we need to eat those left over cookies on the counter top.

Yep, it's that time again.
In a fit of optimism and enthusiasm (two things that are explosive when in near proximity) we make promises to ourselves about what we are going to do in the New Year.  Usually these promises are abandoned about two weeks later. (Grin)

C'mon now, be honest with me here. I'm being honest with you . . . I tried to keep to my diet. I even tried to exercise more. But I live in the country, and the nearest gym is about sixteen miles away. And it got easier and easier to look out the window at the dreary winter landscape and say, "It's just too cold" to go out and walk or jog.
I'm not the only one, am I?

This year, it's going to be different. Oh, wait a minute. I said that last year.

Let's talk this week about some resolutions that will make a real difference in our lives -- commitments that will change our lives if we follow through on them.

Let's dive in!

First, let's make a commitment to forget our failures.
Lo, these many years ago, Paul gave us some awesome advice:
 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

That advice from God's Word has stood the test of time. I don't think there could be any more practical advice that would help us more at the start of 2017. God is telling us that we do not have to live our lives, imprisoned by our past.

Some of the biggest stories in the news this year were of people's failures. Some said things they really shouldn't have. Some did things that make us cringe. Some just tried really hard and didn't reach their goals.

But all of us have failed in some way this past year. We probably won't have to live through seeing our "epic fail" on television, but I bet they will be replayed in our hearts and our minds, many, many times, right?

Our failures make for painful memories.
Maybe they are memories of failed stewardship of our finances. Maybe they are memories of failed stewardship of the health that God has blessed us with.
Maybe they are memories of how we failed in a relationship. Perhaps we said and did the wrong things, made the wrong decisions, and the relationship ended.  Some of us who are parents probably wrestle every day with the knowledge that we've failed our kids in some way. Some of us are painfully aware of having failed our parents or our spouse. I'd bet that all of us know that we've failed ourselves and our Lord in some ways.

It's not a bad thing to learn from our mistakes. It becomes a bad thing when we allow ourselves to be bogged down by our past failures. It's when we dwell so much on our past that it stops us from moving forward, that it becomes a problem. God has a future for each of us, and the start of 2017 is a good time to think about that challenge, and to rise to the occasion!

We need to say to ourselves that we will, with the help of God, forget our past. We will stop torturing ourselves about what we did or did not do. We are going to get out a humongous set of cutters and cut that chain that connects us to our past failures . . . we will open the door and leave the trap of self-doubt . . . we are going to remember that God doesn't want us to go through the rest of our lives branding ourselves as failures.

God doesn't see us as failures. In fact, He chose us!
I took you from the ends of the earth,    from its farthest corners I called you.I said, ‘You are my servant’;    I have chosen you and have not rejected you. (Isaiah 41:9)

And He forgives us not only for our failures, but for our sin of relying on ourselves instead of Him . . .
On the cross, He died so that He could redeem us and forgive us. Let that forgiveness be a reality in our lives. Is that something we need to do, this January day? To accept His forgiveness, and then to forgive ourselves?


Katie Isabella said...

WHAT a great start for us all who read. Right on the mark!

Cathy said...

I don’t normally make resolutions, but I like this one. Forget past failures and move on.....