I trace the stitching of a leather journal. Three years of my life are held within its pages.
I marvel how the cover still looks new, how it gives the illusion that its contents are just as smooth and polished. Covers can be deceiving. I know what lies upon the worn, unedited pages .
Ink stained prayers of hope and joy. Burdens. Grief. Thanksgiving. Questioning. Doubt. Dreams. Resolutions.
Only a few pages remain, just enough to finish the year. But this is not a time to write. It is December 31st, a time to remember and reflect. Did I accomplish all I had hoped this year? I don’t open the journal for the answer. I would rather trace my fingers along the unblemished cover.
Rut of the Flesh
We have good intentions.
I will eat healthy, exercise, join a book club, and blog more often.
We may have great and noble intentions.
I will pray more often, forgive my enemy, and volunteer at the soup kitchen.
And sometimes, we have may even have the rare, “to God be all the glory” intention.
I will tune my ear to God’s call and follow Him wherever He leads.
Intention is never the problem. Intention is a powerful and motivating factor in achieving our goals in life. Yet, we struggle achieving even our best, laid-out plans.
Paul understood. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is NOT the GOOD I want to do. No, the evil I do not want to do- THIS I keep doing.” Romans 7:15, 19
In this scripture, Paul is teaching about the battle between the spirit and flesh, our intention to follow the law and our propensity to sin . Obviously, the decision to eat a chocolate bar or abandon a gym membership isn’t a matter of law or sin. It’s not evil. It is, however, a ramification of the constant war between our intention and our flesh. As soon as we profess our intent, the flesh cries out in rebellion.
I will exercise. -But, it’s too hard!
I will forgive. -But, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness!
I will follow God. -But, the cost is too great!
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warned His disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Revelation vs. Resolution
Obviously, resolutions rarely work. Perhaps it is time for a change.
Instead of making a list of resolutions, we can look to Paul’s example and pray for wisdom and revelation.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He as called you…” Ephesians 1:17-18
What is the difference between resolution and revelation?
Resolutions are self-directed decisions about what we want to do with our life.
Revelations are gifts from God, showing the plans He has for our life.
Resolutions require self-sufficiency and an internal compass.
Revelations require a quiet and listening spirit, willing to follow where He leads.
Resolutions demand personal strength and the ability to self-replenish.
Revelations offer a storehouse of God’s strength, wisdom, and encouragement.
Resolutions keep us in control.
Revelations release us into God’s care and keeping.
Resolutions offer the opportunity for self-glorification or self-ridicule.
Revelations offer the opportunity to give glory to God, no matter the outcome.
Asking God for a Revelation
It is New Year’s Day. The old journal lies open on my desk, revealing its truth. This time, I chose not to wallow in disappointment over missed opportunities and squandered dreams. Instead, I looked for the evidence of God, inked upon the pages.
Where was He in the midst of this?
I read deeper. I read beyond the disappointments, irritations and unexpected challenges. And there, hidden within desperate words, was evidence of Him.
His faithfulness… His intervention… His healing… His presence… He was everywhere.
My flesh wanted to tally the results, but my spirit cried out in thanks. It did not turn out as I had hoped. It did not go as planned. Thank you, Lord.
While I didn’t understand at the time, God was weaving His will deep within my life and bringing me to a place of His choosing. I can no longer go back to the old way of planning out my life. Something better awaits as I become less interested in my intentions and more interested in His. God’s Word provides clear direction in seeking God’s revelation for our lives. It provides a solid ground from which we can explore His will for us in the next year.
Give thanks. Seek. Ask. Trust. Wait. Follow. Lean. Acknowledge.
- GIVE THANKS.“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (See also Psalm 30:12, Colossians 3:17, Psalm 106:1)
- SEEK the Lord and His Kingdom. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (See also Deuteronomy 4:29)
- ASK for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (See also Jeremiah 33:3, Philippians 4:6-7)
- TRUST and WAIT for His Voice “Delight yourself to the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:5-7 (See also Proverbs 3:5-6)
- FOLLOW His leading. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 (See also Philippians 3:13-14, Proverbs 16:2-3 )
- LEAN into His strength. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (See also 2 Corinthians 12:9, John 15:5, Zechariah 4:6)
- ACKNOWLEDGE His sovereignty. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (See also James 4:13-15, Proverbs 16:9, Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Psalm 46:10)
Give thanks. Seek. Ask. Trust. Wait. Follow. Lean. Acknowledge.
A new journal lies open before me. I open the cover and write the first words of the year.
January 1, 2014 “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Will you join me in this journey? Throughout the year, we will explore what it means to give thanks, seek, ask, trust, wait, follow, lean, and acknowledge the Lord as it pertains to His will in our lives. I am not an expert in goal setting nor am I a great teacher of the Word. I am simply a believer, yearning for more of Him.