I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I’d like to lose 10 pounds, be more organized, plan better, and learn new skills (quilting and a foreign language are always at the top of my list). I’ve just never been one to follow through beyond January 31 or so.
I once tried to read through the Bible in a year. I think I made it to March before life got busy and the daily list got lost. Although I try to exercise and eat healthy fairly consistently, I’m not perfect and there are days — ok, sometimes weeks — where I fail more than I succeed.
I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit, which may be true, but I did quit P90X after 40 days, so I’m not sure that rule always applies. In fact, my brother-in-law Tim attempted P90X and made it only 10 days, so we lovingly call the program by whatever day you quit on — P10X for him and P40X for me, respectively.
Sometimes it seems as though the failure list of my life is much longer than the success list. Not that I haven’t accomplished anything. In the past year, I’ve helped plant a church, fostered children while raising three of our own, gone on a missions trip, wrote a book, had a baby, and started a blog…among other daily things like tackling the ever-increasing stack of dishes in the sink or the endless loads of laundry every week.
But being the only one who knows all the little ways I don’t measure up or how often my daily to-do list stays undone, I can focus too easily on where I fall short, where I don’t measure up.
And when days get long, patience gets short, and discouragement is all too near…I need to know I’m not alone. So I go to the place that has become my refuge so often in life: My Bible.
I read how many people have failed God: Moses lashed out in anger, the Israelites complained in the wilderness, Samson was a womanizer, and Abraham failed to wait on God’s timing. All are stories of real people and accounts of mistakes they’ve made. And yet, each of these people is listed in Hebrews chapter 11 as being great examples of faith.
Why? Because the failures in their lives did not define them. Their trust in God did.
Is it really that simple? I think. Is God so unconcerned with the list of failures I tally for my life? Am I simply required to just live a life of faith – trusting God with each step, believing he will fill in where I fall short with my family, my children, my marriage, my life?
And then I read these words:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
I am so thankful for these words. So thankful for such a gracious God who measures success far different than me. Who loves me and will faithfully complete all that he has started in my life.
So, what’s my goal for this year? Keeping my eyes focused on Jesus. Trusting him in all things. Being faithful to obey when he asks. And being willing to return to him when I fail in these things.
Now that’s a list I can manage.