Monday, December 31, 2018

Old Year's Revelations

I am too old for New Year’s resolutions. My mature wisdom tells me resolutions do not work unless anchored in strong emotion.

It’s like the old joke:

How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

Even a strong emotion is often not enough. Last year I set it as a goal to exercise more.  I wanted to be healthier and to reduce my risk of falling. My YMCA personal trainer added cardio and weightlifting to my Tai Chi and walking regimen. I faithfully followed prescribed routines.

By the end of the year, I find I have gained weight, my cholesterol is up, I officially have osteoporosis, and I fell and broke my ankle.

Menopause 4

Kim 0

I anchored that resolution in my desire to live a healthy and safe life, but that desire was not enough. In my case, even following through with action was not enough.

I guess I was today-days-old when I learned life ain’t fair.

Common sense tells us we should make New Year’s resolutions because it is not healthy to dwell in past failures. Instead, we should look to the future with optimism.

Just because sense is common does not make it right. Research tells us that when we make resolutions and announce them to people, we are less likely to achieve those goals. When we reveal the decision, our brains produce those much sought after endorphins, and the brain is happy and ticks off that box. We need to go beyond the resolution and train our brain to crave the actual work of change.

A better way to change is to remind ourselves of the flaws and failures that make us want to change. We need to remember our weaknesses to keep our brains from sabotaging our plans. But, the world tells us it is not healthy to sit in the despair of our failures.

The answer is to understand the difference between guilt and shame. Shame tells us our sin makes us unworthy. Guilt tells us our sin makes us unworthy, but there is hope in forgiveness.

In both a worldly and spiritual sense, change starts with failure. The next step is to own the failure. If you are of the world things can get stuck here. If you are a child of God, then there is a way forward.

Guilt leads to repentance which is swallowed up in forgiveness. Our desire to change must start here and must include the power of God. That is the only power to change.

Because of Jesus we no longer have to fear or deny our sin, failure, or weakness. We can see these aspects of our life as a way to move forward, a way to become stronger.

This year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I will spend some time with the old year’s revelations of my weaknesses, failures, and sins. I won’t sit in that mess condemning myself – my sin has already done that. Instead, I will look to the mercy and grace of my God and know that He can, and will bring about change in me.

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly
    offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
    which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
    or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
    and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

May God bless your 2019 with growth!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Lessons from Ireland: Abide

This summer Paul and I had the joy of traveling with good friends to Ireland.  Ireland is a beautiful country with stunning scenery, a fascinating history, and lovely people. We stayed at a B&B on Inch Beach. The view from the breakfast room window was stunning, but when we entered the building the words on this bronze wall hanging caught my eye: “Bidden, or unbidden, God is present.”

I can relate to this idea that God’s presence among us is not dependent on our request.  He does not wait for us to be ready. He does not expect us to clean and decorate our hearts. He does not wait for us to welcome Him. He dwells among us in His love, in His Son, in His Spirit. God abides with us, and because of this, we abide in Him.

To abide is to remain. When Jesus came to earth, He remained for a lifetime. He lived a human life and knew our joys and struggles. He returned to heaven, yet He abides with us through His word. In heaven, or on earth, God is present.

To abide is to wait. Now, we await His return with eager anticipation. We want to abandon this world and one day abide with Jesus in heaven. In working, or in waiting, we have hope.

To abide is to rest. The world careens around us, but in Him, we find rest for our weariness. The peace of a newborn Jesus abides with us, even in the midst of turmoil. In easy times or struggle, God is peace.

As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:9

Because of this abiding, this love, this joy, we can look forward to the year to come with eagerness and courage. Jesus came to earth as an infant to abide with us: salvation is won, and our hope is secure. I pray His peace, strength, and love abide with you in the coming year.