Every new year people make resolutions. Vows to improve. Challenges to try new things. Commitments to fulfill x number of items on their bucket lists. And really, this is good. We should always strive for better, branch out, aim for improvement.
This year, there are several items on my list of resolutions. Several areas in which I’d like to see improvement in 2014. They pretty much all start with “Be a better…” Wife. Mom. Homeschool mom. Christian. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Reader. Writer. Exerciser. Eater. Homemaker. Cook.
All those hats I wear? I want to wear them better.
But this year, above all, I think one resolution is standing out above all the others:
Resolved: to strive for better but not depend on better. To aim for improvement but not look to improvement for my peace. To do more, love more, grow more but not count on more. To add new stories to my life but to base my life on the old, old story.
What do I mean? Simply this: while I strive for better, I will rest in the truth that because I am in Christ, His perfect counts as mine. No better is needed. I am not perfect, which is why I resolve to keep trying. But I am counted as perfect in Him.
I want to keep pressing on, growing in grace and by grace, growing in godliness and discipline, aiming higher. But I don’t do it to increase God’s pleasure with me. I don’t do it to make Him proud of me. I don’t do it to rest more peacefully.
If my peace or God’s favor rests on any performance of mine, then woe is me. If I dare to lie down at night and assess my actions and attitudes and think I’ve met His standard of living, then woe is me.
Praise the Lord, this is not the case!! I don’t have to struggle and wrestle to eke out some tiny level of improvement in order to make God happy with me. Oh, the freedom!! Oh, the burden that lifts away when this truth awakens in my heart!
God looks at me and sees the blood of Christ, and all His pleasure with His Son rests on me! Now the works I do, I do with joy and freedom and love! Not trying to earn His favor, but because I already have it! Not out of guilt, but out of gratitude! Not to feel proud of myself or to pat myself on the back for the righteous deeds I do, but to give Him all the glory for what He has done and is doing in my heart and life!
This is freedom. This is joy. This is life more abundant. This makes me long to do great works for His kingdom, because He has freed me from the burden of my wretched self! This makes me dream big dreams, and reach for the stars. This stirs my soul, like glowing embers just on the verge of bursting into flame.
I resolve to rest in Him this year. To let the freedom Christ gives me saturate every area of my life, spurring me on to greater depths of His love. To let the fruits of His Spirit grow more sweet in all those hats I wear. To let the fire that is smoldering in my heart catch flame as I step out in faith instead of hide away in fear.
I also challenge you to do the same. Strive for better. Aim higher. But never for one moment base your peace or assurance of God’s favor on any measly effort of your own. Rest firmly in His grace that will never fail when you fail, and from there, let your dreams of better burst into flame.