By Andy Engdahl
As we begin a New Year, we often start by committing ourselves to New Year’s resolutions. We set all kinds of lofty goals for ourselves such as losing weight, exercising more, and spending more time with our families. Spiritually, we promise to spend more time reading the Bible, praying, and witnessing to others. I am chagrined to admit how few of my own resolutions survive even into February. Despite all my promises and hard work, I don’t seem to get very far off the ground by pulling on my own boot straps. My efforts are pretty weak, and therein lies the problem but also the solution.
I have to acknowledge that my efforts are weak and insufficient. I am not able to fundamentally change myself no matter how hard I try. Paul gives us the key to success in 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. But He (Jesus) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is only by admitting that I cannot do it, that the way is opened for me to see it accomplished in my life. It is only by total surrender to Christ and inviting Him to take control of my life that anything is going to change. At the beginning of every day and moment by moment through the day, I must acknowledge my weakness and claim Christ’s strength. He has already accomplished every good and holy thing that I seek to have in my life.
I hope you don’t think that I am trivializing how difficult it can be to change old habits into new ones. I face a choice every time I reach for a book, pick up the TV remote, walk past a plate of chocolate chip cookies (My wife says I never walk by!), learn some bit of juicy gossip, etc. My first impulse needs to be: I can’t handle this on my own; Jesus, I surrender my will to You; only You have the strength to make the right choice. I believe that Christ will answer that prayer and His strength will flow into my life. Philippians 4:13 tells us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.”
We as a church have also made resolutions for the coming New Year. We want to share the Good News of God’s grace and the soon coming of Jesus with our neighbors. We have committed ourselves to building a new church in order to serve God and our community. I believe the key to our church’s success in keeping these resolutions is the same as it is for us individually. Only by total dependence on God and daily surrender to Him will we succeed. I can’t wait to see how God is going to work in His church this year! For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13.