I’m going to lose 20 pounds.
I’m finally going to write that book.
I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.
The cliche dreams of a New Year.
Without fail it happens every December 31st.
There’s something about a new year starting that causes us to desire something new in our lives. As the number rolls from 2015 to 2016, we hope that our lives can roll up with it. More success, more wealth, more experience, and new skills acquired. I wonder if there is a connection between time passing and the realization that we have not achieved the things we dreamed of in our youth.
Perhaps we look back on a year past and see the errors, the mistakes, and the wasted time. We see the flaws in ourselves quite clearly when we examine our past.
As we sip champagne and watch Seacrest try, those flaws stare us straight in the face. We decide, “Not again!” We will grit our teeth and tromp through our struggles and flaws just as we will fight through the snow on the way home from the New Year’s Eve festivities.
It lasts for some time. Some through January. Some through March, perhaps even until summer hits. We keep the diet, we practice an hour a day, we get to the office a half an hour early and we try so hard to finish the task we set before us. Sometimes we even complete it. Regardless of the success or failure we attain at the year’s end there is something missing. As the lights of the New Year ball glimmer and the sounds of laughter and music fill the air something inside is not satisfied. We are not content with the work we have accomplished in the last year.
So we continue the cycle. We go again. Another 10 pounds and I’ll be happy. One more raise, another car, a better vacation. Whatever it is. If we get it, next New Year won’t be laced with a feeling of incompletion. That small needlepoint of pain in the soul crying out over time lost will be quieted, and in its place will be the pounding resonance of success. We will be better. Next year will be different.
When examined though, this logic is full of errors. For those who have attained their goals and reached the success they dreamed of can attest, no matter the magnitude of the past year’s accomplishments that needle continues to do it’s work. Poking and prodding in the innermost depths of our soul revealing the weakness and insufficiency of our efforts, and the pain will rise and call out our flaws.
This is clearly not any place to live. This isn’t a place that can bring any meaning to the mystery of life.
There is a teaching, an offer, that exists that could perhaps be an answer to the, “New Year’s Eve Regret.”
What if there was a way of life where what you do doesn’t affect your worth?
What if there was a being that doesn’t judge you based on what you have or haven’t done?
What if your value as a human being doesn’t have to be determined by the results of your actions?
This offer is before us.
The best resolution you can make is to take it.
Jesus offers us a life that removes the accomplishment problem.
We hear a lot about Jesus’s life and death.
We hear things like, “Jesus died for you.”
Or “Jesus died for our sins.”
Well, that’s a nice thing and all, but I don’t see how it really helps me. I mean what does dying for my sins even mean? What does that do?
Truth is, it doesn’t do much. Not anything really.
It’s what happened next that mattered.
He didn’t stay dead.
Jesus defeated death.
A better way to talk about Jesus’s gift would be “Jesus killed death for you.”
When Jesus killed death he killed our greatest enemy. We no longer have to live in fear of death. We no longer have to live in fear of passing time, or growing old. Death is beaten.
That’s it. We just have to believe it.
Remember being a kid at amusement parks?
You’d run up to the “Tunnel of Horror” or whatever crazy name and jump in line but behind you all of a sudden a very dull voice would call out, “I don’t think you’re tall enough to ride.” As the disappointment enveloped you would turn to see a dead-eyed teenager with a baggy orange and blue striped shirt and a lopsided name tag. You walk over to the crazy little sign that’s modeled like a turtle or whatever the heck the mascot for that theme park is. You back up next to it and lift your eyes up with hope in your heart that you can see the back of your head reaching that line. But you don’t, and the drone of an employee mutters a hardly discernible sentence, “Sorry lil bud, maybe next year.”
We go through life, thinking, “Maybe next year, just got to grow a little bit, just have to do better.”
God isn’t a teenager at an amusement park. Stop living like He is. It’s not about how much you can do. You don’t have to reach a “heavenly height meter” in order to be loved by Jesus. He already does, stop trying to work for something you already have.
This year I encourage you to accept that. To put your faith in the real Jesus.
As 2016 begins, let the part of your life that strains to be better end.
Instead of straining to improve yourself, forcing yourself forward toward arbitrary goals, take a second, take a breath and remember Jesus has got this.
In 2016 let Jesus have you.