Saturday, December 31, 2011

No Time Outs Here

The year 2011 is gone, and we greet a new year. What will be different about 2012 other than its designation? As we look around our world things are in chaos. That statement could refer to international affairs or the disarray in our closet or file cabinet. Chaos is what ensues when order is not maintained, whether in a garden patch or in a person's life.

We try to bring order out of chaos at Christmas time. The Christmas season continues until Epiphany on January 6. Our efforts to make this the most wonderful time of the year often have the opposite result, and we just get stressed out and miss the whole point of Christmas - Peace on Earth and Peace in our spirits. We then try to compensate by making new years resolutions, thinking that somehow we can make that process the redemption of both the holiday stress and the unrealized goals of the year just passed.

There is a problem with making resolutions that sets us up for failure. They are our resolutions. They reflect what we say we want to be different about the new year. Further, the effort that we brought to bear on these issues in 2011 is the same effort we will make in an attempt to bring a different result in 2012. I remember a characterization about doing the same thing the same way over and over and expecting a different result, but it was not very complimentary. When the same effort fails again, we want more time and make a multitude of excuses about how others can do it, but we cannot. If we just had more time, we could do it, too.

"Life is like football," the late Coach Vince Lombardi said. "It is not a contact sport. It is a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport." In life we collide with our circumstances and call time out. But there are no time outs in life. If we withdraw from life to lick our wounds, there is a high probability that we will miss a valuable opportunity. Unlike football, in life we have to play every minute, because every minute is important to the outcome. Spend time on things that count, that have eternal significance. Look forward more than you look back.

It's fine to make new years resolutions - after you seek God's will for your life. Then your plans will be God's plans. It's fine to pursue these annual resolves but not in your own strength. That's why they might not have worked out too well last year. The power of God present in the Holy Spirit can bring your promises to remembrance. But more importantly, the Holy Spirit can bring you clarity of vision and an abundance of personal strength that will enable you to keep the commitments worth keeping.