Typically, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. That may be because, by actually naming them I’m obligated to take action, rather than sort of easing into a new pattern of thinking which might lead to a change in behavior. But lately, a couple of things have bubbled up to the surface of my consciousness that require change. The first one came about as the result of a sort of “light bulb” moment.
It occurred to me one day that I was a lawbreaker. While I’ve looked with disdain at people who cheat on their taxes, rob banks, or elected officials who deliberately mislead the public who pay their salaries, I had been blind to the fact that my driving habits had put me into the same category as the other lawbreakers and could potentially be just as detrimental to other people. Through the years, I have become accustomed to life in the fast lane on the highway, deliberately driving about eight miles an hour over the speed limit, thinking it not so offensive as to attract the attention of a patrolman.
I’m getting a head start on this resolve to obey the posted speed limits and it’s calling for some adjustments. Whereas I used to shave a few minutes off my travel time by speeding, I now know I need to start out earlier; and occasionally while driving in the right lane along with the other law-abiding drivers, I’m vulnerable to receiving “a look” and maybe a honk as a speeder goes whizzing by. But I’m reminded that God is the God of the little AND the big things; and if I want to be considered trustworthy to manage the weightier matters, I need to respond to His prompting on the little ones.
The other resolve will require a lot of help from above. It was brought to my attention that my manner of communication can sometimes be described as being “in your face.” My first thought was denial; after all I’m the quintessential promoter of “the gentle and quiet spirit.” But a second friend confirmed that there was some truth in the statement by telling me I might be prone to being didactic. (I had to look it up; it means “intended to instruct or overly inclined to teach.”) That’s a real friend—telling me the truth rather than what I want to hear.
As I have resolved to humble myself, considering what another has to say as being more important than what I have to say, I have a sense that my God is already at work I me.
I was reminded that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Grace was mentioned first. While I may have been committed to truth-speaking, I’ve often been lacking in grace. Today I was instructed through our pastor’s sermon; he quoted Francis Schaeffer who said our communication of the gospel would be most effective if we devoted fifty-five minutes to listening and five minutes to the message. That’s real help. How kind God is to already give me some instruction as I set about changing my ways. Rather than being defeated by a major correction in my mode of operation, I’m encouraged by the fact that my God who said, “I will be your God” also said “and you will be my people.” He’s on it, working in me “to will and to act according to His good pleasure.” His resolve is making mine possible. That assurance makes for a hope-filled, joy-filled New Year!