I gave up long ago writing New Year's resolutions, but the last few years I've chosen a Bible verse instead to pray about and use as a goal throughout the year. For 2013 I chose a well-known passage from Philippians 3.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
I chose this verse because I really wanted to focus on knowing Christ in a personal and real way. In the past, I've been so frustrated with how my preoccupation with self has interfered with my ability to seek, trust, and serve God. My prayer was that knowing Christ would transform the way I view life, the goals that I pursue and the dreams and plans for the future. That I would no longer be a prisoner to self, but that I would be free to see the world with God's eyes with his heart of love and compassion.
Well, God certainly has answered my prayers, but not in the way I thought He would. This year has been a hard journey so far. So many of the dreams, hopes, and plans that I had at the beginning of the year have fallen to pieces. People I loved and trusted have let me down. Sickness and hard times have struck our family in different ways. I've often felt alone, scared, and completely not in control of the current situation.
I am beginning to realise that a 'happy' life is not found through being loved, accepted or successful. Rather a life of purpose is found through forsaking my dreams,
self esteem and the rights that I think I have. But being the stubborn human
being that I am, I hold on very tightly to the things I love in my
little world. So God in his mercy strips it away until I am bare. By
bringing me low, he gives me the key to reaching the heights. "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8:35
Keith Green hit it on the spot in his song "Trials turn to gold" when he says,
"He's brought me low so I could know
the way to reach the heights.
Forsake my dreams, my self esteem and give up all my rights.
With each one that I lay down
a jewels placed in my crown
cause his love and the things above
is all we'll ever need."
Trials have their way of helping you see what really has lasting value and meaning in your life. I don't want to get to the end and see that I wasted my life pursuing temporary pleasures and joys that had no eternal value. So many of the things that I pursue are not bad in themselves; for example, getting the best grades, trying to please other people, or being mindful of my diet and weight. The problem lies when temporary things in this life distract me from using my time and energy to give to the things that have lasting value!
So something to think about: Look at your life. What counts the most to you? Where does your energy and passion lie? Is it temporary or does it have eternal value?