By Al Tucker
The Christmas tree is down, the decorations put away, resolutions made, and in some cases broken already. That would be me most years in mid-January. I can’t remember past resolutions, but I’m sure they were about doing something healthy such as exercising; going someplace special to play golf or fish; taking a desired vacation with Liva; something potentially career-related, etc. One thing for sure, other than ‘I’m going to read the Bible this year,’ there was nothing concerning my faith or spiritual growth. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any faith. But, it was taken care of by going to church on Sunday and all too often selfish prayers. Prayers not aimed at what God might want of me, but what I wanted of Him. My faith life was secondary to career and other priorities.
Why was that? It was because I only had a casual relationship with Jesus and I wasn’t “Seek(ing) first the kingdom of God” Matthew 6:33. Throughout my life, I only gave Him cursory attention. I thought I had this religion thing nailed, regular church attendance, tithing, doing the occasional good works, and feeling comfortable with my own interpretation of sermons, devotionals, etc. Finding Jesus, you immediately realize that the only thing nailed was Jesus. I’ve learned that God loves me so much that He allowed His son to die for my arrogant sinful nature. I’ve learned that it is much more than a Bible story. It is a personal story. Jesus isn’t a casual friend. He was willing to have my back by experiencing a most gruesome death for me. His death and resurrection was His invitation to me to spend a new life with Him eternally. I’ve fully accepted His invitation. For more than five years now, no more nonchalant Christianity for me. Following Him supersedes everything else.
Make no mistake, I am still human, with my own shortcomings and am still a work in progress. So that brings me to January 2019 and my resolutions. Where in the past, I always tried to be the person I wanted ‘me’ to be. Now my goal with His help is to become the man God wants me to be and “to mount up with wings as eagles, to run and not be weary, and to walk and not be faint” in serving Him.
My resolutions now are about nourishing my soul, ascertaining God’s will, ‘growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18), and using my gifts to serve Him. I have learned all too well that getting involved in too many things can sabotage any plans or goals one puts in place. I have always self-inflicted myself with the busyness-syndrome. I am trying to rectify that problem as I have already pulled back from some activities that have been way too time-consuming. I am also in the process of reorienting some other priorities as I focus more on my faith goals. I remember Billy Graham lamenting in an interview once that the only thing he regretted in life was accepting every invitation to speak at luncheons, conferences, etc. He felt it kept him from being in the Word like he should have been. That statement has always stunned me. What a confession from such a man of God!
Every January, we have fewer years left in our lives to get closer to Him. If 2019 is the year that you would like to enrich your life and have more than a casual relationship with Jesus, there is still plenty of time to establish some New Year’s faith resolutions and ‘mount up with wings as eagles’ for the coming year. Godspeed.
Feature Image: Backyard Photograpy, Alan Tucker