Every year we resolve to do better. To loose weight. To exercise more. To use less screens and get outside more. And I love this time of year. I love the idea of fresh starts and clean slates, as though magically when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve, all the pain, and fears, all the conflict, all the scars from 2021 or the entire past forty-seven complicated years will disappear like a shaken etch-a-sketch. But this messy life doesn’t work that way. Scars remain. The unfulfilled desires continue to growl like an empty belly.
Why do we love the idea of starting over so much? Maybe it’s because we think we have the power to save our own lives. I know for me at least, I want a clean surface to start making a mess on again. I want a clean kitchen before I cook, and a tidy, vacuumed living room before I sit to read a book by the light coming through the window. But our inner lives, our habits, our struggles, our brokenness, the ways we fail to love one another as we love ourselves- these can’t be tidied up, put in cupboards and made right with a nice burning candle or resolution list. Better than our resolves to do better, is the redeeming work of Christ.
Instead of going into 2022 with an ideal plan to fix my anything-but ideal life, I’m looking at what Christ has promised me- that he has and is redeeming my whole messy life- and I’m just going to thank him.
I’m going to believe that his unearned favor and love is enough. I’m going to forget and then turn and re-remember his body broken for me a thousand times ten thousand times, by his grace.
The preacher told us yesterday to take the mindset of clinging to Jesus in 2022, in the midst of our pain and brokenness. Instead of a clean slate I want to wrestle with the Lord, like Jacob, and never let go until he blesses, until I can confess who I am and he changes my name.
In 2022 I will set goals, and make plans, and try to replace bad habits with good ones. But I won’t look at 2022 and my efforts like some self-made clean slate. Rather, I’ll take the soil of my life and let the word of Christ get in me, and germinate something new. Something strong. Something stronger than the weeds I have growing everywhere.
He who began a good work in you, and in me, will be faithful to complete it. So, by his amazing grace I’ll keep turning back to him in 2022.
I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you.
I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.”-Isaiah 44:21-22 NLT