“I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.”—1 Corinthians 2:3 (NIV)
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? Did you become those things you dreamt of becoming as kid? What happened?
Many of us didn’t become the pilots and the sea captains and the astronauts and that entire hullabaloo we thought we would become. But certainly we never outgrew that lavish fantasy.
Every year we become the young dreamers we once were. We dream of greatness and new power. We dream of turning a new leaf and fresh beginnings. We dream that we have a chance of making ourselves great again—hence—the New Year resolutions.
In the New Year, we desire. Not just that, we do something about it: getting out of debt, overcoming addiction, getting that degree, getting married, buying a new car, entering a new house, going back to school, learning a new skill, getting and following a bible reading plan, and so many like these.
Now don’t misunderstand me, doing these things is not a bad thing. In fact a person without ambition, I think, needs specialised help. The problem is that we let these ambitions define us. They become our new identities.
As young children, when we wanted to fly a space bus to Mars, we didn’t really know what we were and had not measured our potential. For example some of us didn’t know that Mathematics would play a number on us. But when we realised that we couldn’t overcome the demon of numbers, we chose to teach CRE and Ancient African History. That is because we came to terms with our inability in certain spheres of life.
But when it comes to New Year resolutions, do we assess our ability? My answer from experience is that we don’t and because we don’t, we end up failing miserably.
We tend to look at the New Year as the New Jerusalem, many expectations, and fresh beginnings but not so long into the year, the truth dawns on us. The truth that this is not the New Jerusalem, but the same old Babylon.
The pressure of the New Year has so much enslaved us. The New Year has become a Messiah for us—a way of overcoming the looming fears, putting a caveat on debt, and above all—liberating ourselves once and for all.
What you are going to try to do is repeat what you did last year and miserably failed at it. Your besetting sins don’t go with change of calendar, your addictions don’t expire with time and your weaknesses are not afraid of growing up with you.
But, how I wish that we be defined by Jesus Christ and what He has done for us—His life, death and resurrection—for us. How I wish that we jumped off the caravan of resolutions and decided like Paul “to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”(1 Cor. 2:2)
How I wish we embraced the fear, trembling and weakness that we try to run away from year in year out. Because, after all, the dusty Christian road walked by all believers is rough and wrinkled. It is with fear and trembling and weakness that we press on.
When we embrace these, we become honest and believe me, the dusty Christian road is for the honest one, them who admit that the road, though straight, is riddled with high calibre potholes and that our job is not to patch them but keep walking.
How I wish that we don’t try to side-step or talk away the “valley of the shadow of death” but instead sang along with the Psalmist that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”
What if, for once, we didn’t define the New Year as “just do it” and instead defined as “it is finished”? That the pressure of becoming someone of note is off because Jesus who became for us what we could never be—our Person of note—is all sufficient?
How I wish we stopped defining the New Year as “The New Me” and instead defined it as “The New Rest” because the banner which hangs over God’s children reads: “It is finished”.
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.