Each new year brings the overwhelming outpouring of encouragement to make resolutions in order to motivate ourselves into the life that is better and more productive than last year.  We list our determined resolve with a set jaw and made-up mind as we decide that this year will be different than the one before.

A resolution is the action taken to provide a solution to an existing problem.  Resolutions are passed by governments to give an answer to a situation which is problematic and needs an answer.  It is a declaration of what will be done from that point on in regard to a particular or potential problem.

Paul talks about his great resolutions in Romans 7:19-21.  He talks about wanting to do the right thing and finding that he ends up doing the opposite.  He talks about not wanting to do the wrong thing and ending up doing it anyway.  If I am honest with myself, I see this same scenario operating in my life over and over and over and over.

I remember the day I discovered the truth about my own abilities to follow God, keep His commandments and live a righteous life.  Paul’s words came flooding through my heart as He said, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”  It was as though a raging fire had begun a sweep through my life and was burning through every good thing I had ever imagined I had done or accomplished.

No matter how much I declared the greatness of God and His amazing power, it was a truth that seemed to fall short of true admiration as long as I saw myself as having anything good originating from me.  As the fire of the truth about my own abilities began to burn hotter and hotter, I watched the flames devour all the goodness I thought I had done.  My greatest desire to serve God, please Him and walk in His ways was cut short everytime by my inability to do anything except what my flesh desired.

I began to see, in the ashes of my own efforts, that anything remaining that had any value or merit was based in the work of God that I was so often unaware of, as I had looked only at what I was working toward.  This was a scene of great devastation for my ego, pride, self-interest and independent thinking, but it was a needed burn-out for truth to rule and reign.

I was left standing, with the acrid smoke of the destruction of my arrogance still choking the air around me, in a room that once seemed beautifully adorned with all my talents, prayers, gifts, callings and great intentions.  Now the walls were black and the awards of excellence were charred beyond recognition.  Every trophy I had imagined in my mind regarding my commitment to Christ, adherence to His principles and dedication to service were broken and melted into charred lumps of useless debris.

I didn’t want to stay long in this dismal place, reviewing the destruction of all that I had been taught was the purpose of living – the disciplined life of Christianity.  I longed to step outside the confines of the smoke-filled chaos I had created and breathe the fresh air of God’s creation.  I longed for life that remained, in spite of my own helplessness.  I longed for freedom from the truth of the insignificance of all I had done.

My greatest revelations of God’s power, might and glory have been in the midst of the horrendous recognition of my own inability to carry out any righteous act.  And yet, I find so few who rejoice with me as I share the victory of knowing that it is no longer I that live, but Christ.  It is no longer I who solves the problem, finds the answer, makes the picture better, develops the relationship or changes my earthly situation to better suit life.  For the life that is being lived now is not my own.  I belong to another, the One who alone is Life.

Those who may not agree with my delight in the recognition of my own inability to do anything that brings life will also find no corresponding awe and overwhelming wonder of the great goodness of the God who sent His Son that I might know life, His life.  I find myself speechless and unable to adequately express the full magnitude of the great gift of life that I know is the only reason I exist.

Seeing the ashes of my own abilities did launch me into a grieving process that I never expected to experience.  The desire of the flesh to do and accomplish something – anything – is a deep, ingrained desire that does not soon diminish when nothing is left to be done.  I found myself attempting to find another way to insert my own effort into any area of my life where there seemed to be a lack.  I found, though, that any deficiency I imagined was a place where the Spirit of God was revealing His sufficiency and perfect, complete work so that I might trust God alone.

So, I face the new year with an absence of resolve, knowing I do not have the ability to carry out anything that is eternal or life-giving.  Yet, I face the new year with more hope and assurance than ever before, for the life that I live now I live by the faith of the Son of God and He who is in me is greater than anything in this world.  I see that all things work together for good and that every good and perfect gift is from God.  I know the eternal purpose of the Almighty of God will be accomplished for He who began the work, HE ALONE IS FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE IT.

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