We often meet the new year with good intentions – usually the typical plans to exercise more, eat less, write that magnum opus, or launch into a new hobby. Truth is, however, we may come into the new year so beaten down by the old one that our resolutions have lost their steam before the train ever left the platform.
How do we break the cycle? How do we ensure the new year will not echo that old familiar refrain of defeat and discouragement? Well, as with most things, the battle begins in our hearts and our heads. First, we have to want something different – as in really want it. Sometimes we allow ourselves to stay in our ruts because we find comfort in the familiar. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Surrender yourself and your situation to the Lord so that all things may be made new. Be willing to make yourself uncomfortable. Be willing to live a little on the edge by breaking a habit or a routine.
Second, we have to recognize that most of us are able to wage war on only one battlefront at a time. And if we must choose, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33). In other words, put God – and your relationship with Him – first, and everything else will fall into place. Make your daily quiet time a priority, even if you only have a few minutes to spare. Seek to let His life shine through yours. That can only happen through continual communion with Him.
Third, remove yourself from relationships that drag you down. If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell (Mark 9:47). Apply that concept to the people in your life as well. Those with whom we associate ourselves can make us myopic, unable to see the One Thing that should be at the center of our sights. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). For a more exhaustive discussion of toxic relationships, check out my July 4, 2011, post, When It’s Time to Detox, http://halffullandoverflowing.blogspot.com/2011/07/when-its-time-to-detox.html.
Fourth, don’t wave the white flag of surrender when you face a setback. Reach up to the Lord, pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over. Persevere. The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4). To paraphrase a popular commercial, you can do it. He can help.
Are you beginning to see a common thread here? If you know Christ as your Savior and Lord – you’re trusting Him and Him alone for your salvation – then you have the power within you by virtue of the Holy Spirit to change. You can change. Your life can change. The Holy Spirit will guide you, and the Word of God will instruct you.
As you journey through this new year, please let me know how I can pray for you, or tell me how you see God working in your life. I am trusting God for great things in your lives and mine.
Happy not-the-same-old year, my friends.