At the beginning of a new year, a high school principal decided to collect and post his teachers' new year's resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining, "Why weren't my resolutions posted?"
She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacher's first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the new year.
Isn't that the way it is with all of us? Our good intentions for the new year evaporate in less time than it takes us to remember to start dating our checks correctly for the new year. Is it any wonder that research has shown only a 12 percent success rate when it comes to new year's resolutions?
In the words of Dr. Phil, "How's that working for you?" At least for Christians, I suspect it's not working because we forget that for any real change to take place in our lives, it needs to be motivated by and empowered by God.
In Isaiah 43:19, God inspires the prophet to speak these words, "Behold I will do a new thing." God is the one who is constantly seeking to do a new thing in our lives. There is a sense in which the phrase, "old-time religion," is an inadequate term for the Christian.
Although God is unchanging, God is always doing a new thing in his relationship with us. In fact, for the Christian, the Scriptures portray this work of God in great detail:
God has made us a new creation.
God gives us a new song.
God calls us by a new name.
God gives us new mercies every morning.
God establishes with us a new covenant.
God gives us a new commandment.
God calls us to walk in newness of life.
All of these biblical imperatives are initiated by God. And only the last one asks for a response on our part. There is nothing wrong with trying to make some positive changes in our lives this new year. But if we, as Christians, want those changes to last past mid-January, we had better seek God's direction and empowerment for change.
Instead of resolving to make changes, we need to be renewing our faith in the One who is always doing a new thing in our lives.
Doug Stockton is pastor of Christ United Methodist Church at 301 Wooster St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Janet Gossett at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.