Saturday, December 28, 2013

Maybe Eventually…Thoughts on a New Year

While I may not be so enthusiastic about the holidays, I can get into New Year’s with the best of them.  It must have something to do with my love of countdowns.  Life just isn’t the same now that Dick Clark isn’t counting down that final minute each year.  I genuinely enjoy reflecting on the year that’s past and planning for the one that awaits.  (In truth, I’m mostly just glad there are about 360 days until I have to be ready for Christmas again.) And of course, there are the resolutions.  Every good fourth grade teacher makes her students write some goals for the upcoming year, which always gets me thinking about mine…

A lot of people have sworn off New Year’s resolutions, and I can respect that.  A new start isn’t always necessary, and when it is, it can come any day of the year- that I do believe.  But I’ve never been able to resist the added motivation of a fresh start that comes with a fresh year. Granted, last year, I decided that my New Year’s resolutions would instead be Martin Luther King Day resolutions because I was still just too worn out from the holidays to get it together by January 1st, but I did still set some new goals at least.  I think the delayed start may have enabled me to keep my new habits up until President’s Day instead of Valentine’s Day last year, but I’ve never once made it to March.

So why do I keep making these short-lived resolutions year after year?  This is a question I’ve been pondering lately and I’ve decided it’s because I’ve bought into the idea that so many women (and men) have- that I’m not (and will I ever be?) good enough.  I tell myself that if I were healthier, more organized, more physically fit, more spiritual, simply more TOGETHER…THEN, my life could truly begin.  I use the terms, “one day,” “if only” and “maybe eventually” way too much and I convince myself that God uses the same phrases when He looks down on my life, as He too shakes His head and wonders if I’ll ever begin to live up to what He had in mind for me. 

This year, as I assess where I am and where I’d like to be, some lessons that I learned just recently keep creeping into my mind and challenging this perception that I’ve always had.  This fall, I participated in a small group Bible study by Priscilla Shirer entitled Gideon and subtitled “Your weakness.  God’s strength.”  This Bible study was eye-opening and I’d venture to say even life-changing for me, as I’ve always had an issue with pride and wanting others to think I’m perfect (or at least darn near perfect).   The idea that God intentionally fashioned us with imperfections that are meant to draw attention to His strength was a concept that had somehow escaped me for thirty years’ worth of church attendance. 

The author of the study used the metaphor that our weakness is a specifically designed key that unlocks a door would otherwise remain closed, both to us and to others who would benefit from it being opened.  She also pointed out that even once we recognize that we have the key for a reason and it unlocks that door, the door will still remain closed if we choose not to open it.  Opening it reveals opportunities to know God, both for us and for those around us, in ways that we never would have experienced Him otherwise.  But as long as we hide our key away and keep the door sealed, we are limiting how much He can be glorified through our lives.

God used this study to speak to me about my own weaknesses and the ways He could use them if only I’d let go of my pride and turn the key in that door.  And now He’s using it to remind me that there are other doors just waiting to be opened NOW, not “one day,” “if only,” or “maybe eventually.”  It would be great to improve myself as I take on those new opportunities…to eat healthy, get myself organized, exercise more, get it together…and of course, to be more deeply rooted in Him.  However, He is always ready and willing to use me NOW if only I’ll let Him. 

God’s plans aren’t always what we have in mind.  This year, He has shown me just how much He can do with a life that I would have considered completely derailed more than once.  My challenge to myself, as well as to each of you, as we are faced with a brand new year, is to let God meet us where we are.  It doesn’t matter to Him that we think we need to lose a few pounds, clean out our closets, cut out soda, or even go to church, read our Bible and pray more first.  There are opportunities NOW all around us – not once we save up for that mission trip, once our family circumstances are different, or once we learn how to manage our time better.  I promise you that He wants to use each of us to share His love TODAY, just the way we are, because His power is made perfect in weakness.  He’s just waiting on us to open the door.  And maybe someone else is too.


But He said to me, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  
-2 Corinthians 12:9


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