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3rd January 2014
Even as I clink my champagne glass and take a sip on the stroke of midnight, most New Year's Eves I find myself in the midst of a slight malaise. It is partly the season – miserable weather and too few hours of sunlight – but it's also the mingling of hope and disappointment: hope that this year I'll stick to all the goals I set for myself; disappointment that I probably, actually, realistically won't. I've become so used to the cycle that I feel the disappointment even as I'm setting the goals, and I already anticipate feeling the same way 12 months down the line when I haven't changed as much as I hoped.
But on January 1st I read what may well be the most liberating and encouraging blog on New Year's resolutions that I've ever read. Entitled Ringing in the New Year, it begins:
"It's that time of year again – time to ring in the New Year with dramatic resolutions fuelled by the hope of immediate and significant personal life change."
The all-too-common disappointment I experience, along with many others, may actually come down to a culturally-corrupted, X Factor-styled "big drama Christianity" that promises radical change overnight, ignoring that little doctrine known as sanctification or, in other words, the effort-required, blood, sweat and tears process of becoming more Christ-like.
"...Biblical Christianity – which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart – simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart and life change is always a process."
Of course, this doesn't mean we shouldn't expect deep, lasting change. Much the opposite. It challenges me to appreciate the little steps – sometimes so teeny-tiny that no one else could spot them – that come when I daily access the grace that is sufficient for me, exercise my faith as small as a mustard seed, and choose God's ways rather than my own. Realising that these small steps add up to a great journey that takes me "from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18) helps me keep my eyes on the bigger picture and remember that there is One more committed to my transformation than I: the Author and Perfector of my faith!
"You see, the character of your life won't be established in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. Your legacy will be shaped more by the 10,000 little decisions you make in 2014 rather than the last-minute resolution you're about to make."
So this year won't be the same old because I'm approaching it differently: I'm still hoping for change, but this year I'm resolving to make 10,000 small steps in the right direction and, as I do so, to relish one degree of glory at a time...
Read the full Ringing in the New Year blog by Paul Tripp here.
Image: 'I always know how warm it is!' by minxlj
Posted by Natalie Williams