I must admit, I’ve never been one to make New Years resolutions, and yet this year for some inexplicable reason I’ve made <several>. I’m happy to announce I’m quite resolved to keep them and have done well thus far. 8 days down, 357 to go right?!
Lately I’ve found myself encouraging quite a few young women in their walk. As the end of 2018 drug to a close, they came, one by one, bedraggled to my counsel. Each frustrated by their lack of discipline, the general angst of unmet and unfulfilled goals, and depressed at looking back over their year and having so little to show for it. There were a lot of woulda, coulda, shouldas to say the least.
I told them each in turn- sis, I get it.
For many the new year holds so much hope and dreams. We desperately want our resolutions to ‘stick’. We start so strong and motivated. And then, like so many of my dear girls, time slowly wears away our resolve. Our fiery determination dissolves bit by bit through a little laziness here or a little bit of compromising there. One thing leads to another and before you know it that twenty pounds we wanted to lose turns into twenty-five that needs to go. The desire to spend less screen time or more quality time with loved ones gets lost in work deadlines and a overly-full schedules. And the year closes too often with a page full of unmet aspirations and half-checked off resolutions.
It can be super discouraging.
Our walk with Christ has the potential to suffer a similar fate. The regular grind of taking up our cross is one of pure, unadulterated sacrifice. It’s the daily discipline of being in the Word, seeking the Lord at every turn, and constantly mitigating our flesh. It’s not glamorous and it’s certainly not easy... in fact it’s just plain hard pretty much all the time.
With such odds it is easy to get discouraged and feel as if all the striving and work is for nothing. Or the seemingly minuscule results are certainly not worth the gargantuan effort it takes to get them. The ‘grind’ of working out our faith can most certainly grind us emotionally and spiritually into despair.
And yet it doesn’t have to be so.
Each step of faith, every victory no matter how small, each decision to choose the Right path versus the easy one, every moment of disciplining our fleshly nature to the likeness of Christ is cheered in heaven. Our steps of faithfulness may be halted, or uneven. They may stop and start a hundred times over. But each one forward reverberates in the spiritual realm. And our Father cheers us on alongside the angels.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
Dear ones- holiness can also be found in the reverence and sacrifice of discipline. Even when we don’t feel like it, or don’t want to do it. When we are hopelessly stuck or feel like God has nothing new to share- still the grinding out of our daily walk of devotions, prayer, fellowship, being in the Bible- has such power. There may not be sparks, fire, thunder, or great new insight every time we open our Bibles or voices from heaven speaking over us in our prayers. Grind it out anyway.
This year, even now, it’s not too late to resolve to be disciplined in our faith. If there is no other resolution to make- that’s the one to put into practice. Each day, step by step, may your 2019 testify to the daily work of the Cross in your life. My prayer is that all of our lives of steady spiritual habits would only grow stronger with each day, week, and month- and ultimately we would find ourselves at the end of this year with the knowledge that we grinded it out well. It may not be pretty to look back on, it will not be easy, but oh what satisfaction!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Join me today, if you haven’t resolved to walk more faithfully yet this year, let us partner now to grind it out all year long. Together. United. Spurring each other on daily! Comment below with your faith resolutions for this year.