It is January 1, 2010, the beginning of a new year. We have left behind 2009 with all of its ups and downs. There were good times and there were bad times. Each one of us can relate stories of joy and tales of sadness. You can tell of victories won and battles lost. You can relate how you fought hard to remain on the right road as well as how you willingly took a side road because you wanted to.
It is also a time to make resolutions - to quit smoking, drinking, cussing, lying, stealing, etc., to love your family more, to spend more time with family, to attend church more often, to read your Bible daily, to be a better housekeeper, to be a more faithful worker, to drive the speed limit where ever you go, etc. You might well have already made some resolutions. The question becomes, "How will you make it to your goal?"
It will take a lot of hard work, determination, support from family and friends and something that most people don't think about - direction from the Lord. Before you start any step towards meeting your resolution, why not take it to the Lord. Before you begin to diet, ask the Lord to help you. Before you put that pack of cigarettes away, ask the Lord to give you strength and guidance as you go through the struggle of quitting. As you begin to treat your wife/husband better, ask the Lord to make you a better person.
Will asking for guidance mean that you will make your goal? That, my friends, is really the question. I would like to say that the answer is, "Yes." But I can't. Why? There is a little thing called sinful self that gets in the way. The Lord is always there helping you in your life. He has never left you. The question is, "How did you get into the mess you are in?" Is it because the Lord lead you there? Is it because the Lord didn't help you in your life? No. It is because you chose that direction. You chose to begin smoking or drinking. You chose to start cussing. You chose to cheat on your spouse. You chose to steal from work. You chose to start looking at pornography. You chose that action. The Lord was telling you all along that it was not good for you, but like Adam and Eve in the Garden, you took the fruit from the tree and took the bite. Despite the Lord telling you that it was bad for you, you didn't listen.
So as you work towards your goal, why not walk the path of faith. Why not ask the Lord to guide you step by step. Each day, ask for His help. Each time you are tempted to give in to whatever it is - eating, smoking, cussing, forgetting about devotions, hating your brother, looking at pornography, lying to your parents/children/spouse/employer - stop and ask God for guidance. Ask Him to help you to do what is right. Ask Him to show you the right path. Ask Him to help you not turn from the path you are on. Ask Him to help you to be with Him (Notice I didn't say for Him to be with you. He is always with you!).
And when you fail at some point (and you will), ask Him to forgive you. And then ask Him to help you forgive yourself. Just because you make one mistake, eat the food you shouldn't have, looked at the person you shouldn't have, smoked the cigarette you shouldn't have, doesn't make you a failure. It just means you are human.
One thing I read this last week or so is that it takes at least 21 days to break a bad habit and begin a new habit. 21 days! That means you will not be able to say you have won a victory until you have reached January 21st. Then it will be another 21 days for a new habit to take the place of the old one. One thing to keep in mind, when you stop something, you need to fill the space with something worthwhile. If you don't, either the same thing will come back or another bad or sinful habit will take its place. You don't want that.
Enough of the preaching. I pray that you will be able to meet your goals. As you begin, begin with the Lord. It is like the hymn says, "With the Lord begin your task, Jesus will direct it. For His aid and counsel ask; Jesus will prefect it. Ev'ry morn with Jesus rise, and when day is ended, In His name then close your eyes; Be to Him commended." (Lutheran Service Book, #869, CPH, 2006) God bless your new year.