Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Changes

             Here we are on the eve of a New Year – literally. A ritual of sorts takes place each year at this time where well-intentioned people make some sort of promise to themselves, and possibly others, that things in their life are going to be different. Either attitude, action, or perhaps an unkept promise will now see the light of day. We even give it a more authoritative label, as if this were going to make it happen for sure. It’s called a “New Year’s Resolution.”

The sad truth is that such boasts rarely make it into the second week of the New Year, let alone into February.

“But I really mean it this time!” we hear ourselves say. A favorite target for New Year’s Resolutions is the promise of losing extra pounds. “I’ll get one of those memberships at the club, and then I’m going to get up early every morning and work out.” The weight-loss industry in America laughs all the way to the bank, counting on such lame promises from an overweight populace that simply cannot say no to rich, fattening foods.

 Or perhaps you have come to the realization that your attitude is more often than not, shall we say, unpleasant, and you need to do something about it. It may well be affecting your marriage. And your kids are avoiding you because you always seem to be crabby. But, by golly, you’re going to fix it! Right? Yeah, sure. Good luck with that.

Now, your idea of a New Year’s Resolution may be different than the two examples I have given. But here’s my question to you: Just how do you plan to make your resolution work? Hmmm?

Such changes in your life center on your character.

During the Clinton administration, we were exposed to any number of sexual exploits and dalliances the president engaged in either during his governorship of Arkansas, or during his time in the White House. Regardless, it was an embarrassment on us as a nation. There were many of us who questioned the character of this man. Some of his shameless defenders said such drivel as, “Character doesn’t matter.” And this was said with a straight face!

One of life’s truisms is that character does matter.

So what does this have to do with a resolution? Everything! You see, as fallen human beings we are inclined to always fall short of our intended improvements in life. Sin infected the human condition causing us to strive to be better only to find ourselves frustrated with personal effort. The truth is, as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, we are incapable of conquering such challenges in our own strength.

For meaningful, lasting change, which speaks to character, it is God alone who can bring about the desired change. “You mean God cares about whether or not I join a gym? Or whether I can lose 10 pounds by February 1st? Or whether I’m loving toward my spouse and kids?” Yes, God cares very much about such things – and everything else going on in your life, too. And since he made you, he knows exactly how you work best. The only difference is whether you allow him to have control over your life or not.

I would invite you to consider the following invitation from Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30. I’m using the Amplified Version to show the many ways God calls you to himself so that he can do in you that which you could never do. Ask yourself, “Do I want the change God can bring into my life?”

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

When God has control of your life, he changes your character so when you say you’re going to do a certain task, or make a specific commitment, it’s no longer you trying to make it happen, but God who strengthens you to accomplish his will.

If you’re serious about lasting change that will produce godly character, then surrender your heart and life to him.

I can’t think of a better way to begin the New Year!

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