Happy new year. Though in the immortal words of a college friend of mine: “How do you know it’s going to be a happy year?”
Dieting, drinking less and cutting out smoking: These were among the new years resolutions amongst my friends. By 1 AM, the smoker caved and I’m fairly sure some of my drinking friends woke up feeling a little fragile.
Each New Year, people are honest enough to say they wished things were different in their lives. Yet year-in, year-out these changes don’t seem to occur. Gritting your teeth, asserting your self-will and being sincere, determined enough doesn’t seem to get very far.
I wonder sometimes, if this is the attitude we have toward the Good News of Jesus. God, in undeserved love, comes to save humanity from the mess it’s in. This is primarily accomplished by Jesus on the cross and continued by God’s work through his Holy Spirit.
But making this Gospel part of our lives is often a challenge. I know I have often decided to try my hardest to be a better person, as defined by the wonderful ‘modern’ ethical assertion that each individual person has the completely independent power to become a good person in his or her own eyes.
But as I have sought God over this year, I have come to understand that this is nonsense.
No, this is not the Gospel.
The Gospel says that I cannot do what is right by myself, indeed I can’t even know what is right with my own resources. When I want to do the right thing, I inevitably do only what is best for me.
This New Year, I want to seek God.
Because I know I have not got the power to transform myself or my situation.
But God does.
And so, each day I shall pray for the things I need, for healing and wholeness and for God to help me to follow him. Now, your needs will be different to mine, so think about what it is you need to ask God for. The Gospel is not self help. It is not trying harder. It is the good news of God with us.
I’ll pray something like this:
Thank you for yesterday and the goodness you showed me
I am sorry for the selfishness and pride that controlled me
Please forgive me.
God, I rise this morning
And ask for your Spirit within me
Please give me self control, humbleness and obedience to your will
These things are sweeter to me than the finest riches
I don’t want to be lost to evil, hate, anger, lust, gossip and pride
God, grant to me your great love
So I can share it with everyone you take me to today.
And glorify your name
So what about you?