2018! We find ourselves here, ready or not. I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they are generally misguided attempts to fix ourselves. But it is not unhelpful to take a moment, before rushing headlong into new year, to come before the Lord. The seasons and years of our lives reflect a God who works His redemptive purposes in us and through us, across time and space, to prepare us for heaven.
If we come before the Lord as King David did, we will ask the Lord to search and know us, to try us, to know our hearts and anxious thoughts, and to reveal any hurtful way in us. And then we are likely—certain, really—to come face to face with failure. It is what we do with this encounter with failure that will largely determine the course of our 2018. We can choose the route of self-improvement, grit our teeth, and determine to be better and do better. Or we can rejoice in the truth that the Lord is the God of do-overs and invite Him into 2018 to do His redemptive work.
An encounter with failure is an incredibly rich opportunity for God to enter deeply into our souls. First and foremost, failure is an efficient reminder that our hope is in the Lord: we cannot do life ourselves. In an old song popularized by DC Talk, Charlie Peacock makes this observation: “…I’m still a man in need of a Savior.” To put this truth in the terms of the well-known 12-step recovery program (even if we don’t have a substance abuse or other addiction issue, each of us bears the burden of addiction to pride), our failure can bring us back to Step 1: “I have a problem, and I am powerless to overcome it on my own.” Keeping this date with humility and exercising a renewed focus on dependence on our Lord rather than reliance on ourselves enables us to participate in God’s glorious work in us.
Humility, though, is not the only virtue we need if we are to work out our salvation as the Lord does His work in us. God’s ways are not our ways, and His time is not our time. It is a common human experience that God does not work at the pace at which we would have Him work. And so we must add patience and perseverance to humility if we are to experience genuine, God-driven change.
But before we consider giving up—change is hard!—it is critical to remember that it is God who is at work in us. The Holy Spirit does the “heavy lifting;” we get to participate. We can gratefully rejoice that God does not leave us as we are but faithfully works to make us fit for heaven. A new year finds us “in process” and gives us the opportunity to invite the Lord to join us as we step into 2018. Better yet, we can accept last year’s reminders that we are still in need of a savior and ask the Lord to enable and empower us to accept and embrace His invitation to join Him in this new year.