There’s plenty about last year that I’d like to leave behind. It’s not circumstances or people, but me. It’s not external stuff, but what lies beneath the surface in my soul.
Perhaps you feel the same way. It’s why we feel so sorely tempted to set “New Year’s resolutions.” But we hesitate because we sense that any resolutions for this year will be overwhelmed by last year’s inconsistencies.
So, what do we expect in the New Year?
Some of us will make great progress with weight-loss programs, exercise regimes, career-development, and educational endeavors. Some of us will start families or start saving with great success. Hard work, sharp focus, and disciplined choices will carry us a long way.
Most of us will not experience such success. We’ll slip into usual patterns and familiar routines, and content ourselves once again with “more of the same.”
The challenge, of course, rests in the truth that we can do precious little to change what matters most—our character. In our own strength, we have insufficient power to turn fear into hope, to shift from greed to generosity, to rise above lust, to ameliorate anger, to embrace humility, or to grow in peace, joy, and self-control. We can drop a few pounds here in January, but we’ll discover the same sins in our living rooms in June.
Will we pursue spiritual awakening and revival this year?
The new things that matter most, will be God’s work within us. And His work within us springs not from apathy or passivism on our part, but surrender—fuller and greater surrender to Him.
Frankly, such surrender means more serious devotion to spiritual disciplines—prayer, reading, and fasting—because these disciplines create spaces for the Holy Spirit to shape us.
We don’t pray because we’re good at it. We pray because God meets us there. We don’t read Scripture because we’re scholars. We read because God speaks. We don’t fast to get God’s attention. We fast to give Him our attention. And in these acts of devotion He does a work of transformation, renewal, and revival.
May it be so.