Yesterday I put up a new calendar. I am always amazed at how quickly the year passes. It seems the older I get the faster the calendar pages turn. And like many others, a new year usually finds me making new resolutions to eat less and lose weight, create a better/tighter budget and stick to it, to listen more and talk less, to be a better friend, daughter, parent, etc and countless other things that I think would make me a better person. Unfortunately, around March most of my New Year resolutions usually begin slowly sliding downhill in priority and by summer many have been forgotten and abandoned completely.
For years I would make New Year resolutions that I thought would make me a better Christian; I would resolve to read my Bible more, to pray more, to minister more, and to give more, but like most other resolutions, my resolve would quickly fade and soon even my desire to do better would be forgotten amidst the fast pace of daily life. Then I would find myself incredibly discouraged by my own inability to make grand, noble, and noticeable improvements in my Christian character. It was difficult to admit that despite my very best efforts I was unable to obtain perfection – in fact any improvement was minimal at best. I could not save myself; I could not do anything good and certainly not enough to merit my salvation.
But this year as I think about my past experiences with New Year resolutions I am reminded of the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” ~ Mark 8:35. I am reminded again that I cannot save myself; I am saved by grace alone. And as I am reminded by Paul in Romans 6, grace does not abound that we continue in sin, but it is grace that motivates me to deny self and take up my cross, and follow the One who grants me grace. It is only by grace that there is any good or any hope for goodness in my life. And so this year I am not making any resolutions to improve my character, my body, or my life, my prayer is that God will take my life and use it however He chooses to bring Him glory. I do not hope to improve my life – I hope to lose it –a life lost in the arms of grace.