Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On Resolutionary Thinking…

A new year, a new start, and many of us sit down and write our New Year’s resolutions, which last all of a few weeks… maybe. Many many years, I’ve written down my goals and they have fallen by the wayside. Will this year be any exception?
Last week, a group of women on a board that I help moderate, decided to work together and hold each other accountable. We each came up with 36 goals to accomplish in the next 366 days. (2012 is a leap year.) Then we organized our goals into categories and months to get them done in and broke them down and made a plan of attack. I don’t think I’ve ever gone about New Year’s resolutions in quite such an organized fashion. But there are still so many places where I know I can fall off the tracks.
I have a bit of the perfectionist in me. If I make a goal to read my Bible every day and then I miss several days, I feel like giving up completely. After all, I’ve failed, right? Do you ever feel that way?
I got to thinking that it’s a little bit like baptism. It’s easy to think of that as a washing clean of the old sinful nature and a fresh start, just like a new year. The Holy Spirit is living in me and I should do it all right now, right? I see the sanctification of my life as something I have to do and should be able to do, if I just try hard enough. But then I fail, I fall down, and I tend to think of myself as hopeless, useless, worthy only of rejection.
But, maybe that’s why Martin Luther says that this washing with water “signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Daily, even moment by moment, that old Adam is drowned in repentance and the new man comes forth. And all of it done by the Holy Spirit through me, not of myself.
And maybe my resolutions should be the same way. I should not make it a resolution to read my Bible every day this year, but rather to work toward making Bible reading a daily habit. And then remember that there is grace, not perfection. And the changes that occur in me will not be of my own doing, but of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. Those are the kind of resolutions that might actually be resolutionary.

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