“Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”
This quote from Oswald Chambers got my mind churning this morning. I hate New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never kept one of them. The only exception is one year when I made resolutions to not lose weight, not become more disciplined and not to change much in my life. However, after reading Chambers, I was reminded of Philippians 3:13-14 “. . .one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This led me to, not make resolutions, but to set some goals for the New Year. I came up with six goals: Choose to forget, Reach forward, Press for the prize, Look up, Except the miraculous, and Be thankful.
Goal Number One–Choose to forget: Joseph has always been one of my heroes but especially this year as we’ve faced what have seemed insurmountable challenges. His statement to his brothers “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” has been a huge challenge for me as I’ve struggled to forgive some huge hurts over the past few months. Joseph was able to reach forgiveness, and a clue to how he came to that point is given to us in the name of his first born son. He named him Manasseh, which means “to forget” because he said, “God has made me forget all the trouble and all my father’s household “ (Genesis 41:51). Jesus also urged us not to look at the past when He said “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:62). As the New Year dawns, we have a fresh opportunity to stop looking back and to turn our eyes toward the faithfulness of God, which as Jeremiah tells us in Lamentations 3:22-24 “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, Therefore, I have hope in Him.”
Goal Number Two–Reach forward: The only way to advance is to move forward. As we run this race of life, the Apostle Paul tells us how to do it. He said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). The way we go forward is to press on to maturity in Christ and leave the junk behind.
Goal Number Three–Press for the prize: Paul tells us not just to reach forward, but to do it in a way that allows us to reach our goals. And as I press for the prize, I have realized I have no strength of my own. This has been a year of weakness as we’ve discovered I have a serious lung disease and my strength is very depleted. The New Year enters to a house almost empty of furniture with piles of boxes, one room for those going to a spring garage sale and one room that are headed for a truck that will take us across the country to a totally new life. But as we press forward, we understand and depend on the fact that God is our strength and when we lean into Him we can advance toward the finish line. After all, 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, to give thanks to God “who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” That place could be Oregon or it may be in our new home in New York.
Goal Number Four–Look up: When you run a race, if you watch your feet, you never know where you’ll end up—in a ditch, stumbling over a rock, or missing a turn in the road. This year, I’ve made a goal to look up, not just to see where I’m going, but to keep alert to what God is doing so I can join Him in whatever He wants to do. Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35). If my eyes are on my feet, I miss seeing the people God places in my life and I fail to be a part of what God wants to do through me. I’m determined not to let that happen.
Goal Number Five–Expect the miraculous: As I have struggled with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis this year, I’ve begun to say, “I’m breathing by grace, living in the hope of the miraculous.” There is no cure for this very aggressive disease unless God steps in and heals me. When the disciples wondered about the impossibility of coming to a point of salvation, Mark 10:27 tells us that Jesus looked at them and said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” God can do whatever He knows is necessary to accomplish His purposes, so this year I am determined to watch for miracles.
Thankfulness is not an option for those of us who follow Jesus Christ. Author Ann Voskamp notes in her book One Thousand Gifts that miracles in Scripture are preceded by thanksgiving. A verse that God used to make a huge difference in my life while I was still in high school is Colossians 3:17 which says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” As we live in gratitude, we give God space to work in, through and around us.
Join me in leaving the broken, irreversible past in God’s loving hands, and stepping out into the invincible future with Him.