I'm not a huge celebrator of new years. I haven't stayed up past midnight on New Year's Eve since I had children, not even this year when my beloved Aggies were dreadfully losing their football game to a basketball school at half time. Thankfully, after I went to bed, the team welcomed 2014 with a come-from-behind win, and I woke up to this happy news after a full night's sleep.
But I know me. I am generally way too concerned with accomplishments and checklists and goals. I know how easily I translate spiritual growth into behavior modification and how my frantic pursuit of these things can make me start believing that I'm in charge of my own change.
In this regard, I've made lists of the fruit of the Spirit before, resolving to "work on" one each day of the week, as if I were the Spirit and the fruits were mine to make. I've assigned conviction as my own responsibility and over-convicted myself, pouring on the guilt and condemnation. I've decided how I needed to up my spiritual game, attacked it full-speed-ahead, and then questioned why God has not moved as I determined He should.
You get the picture, and perhaps then you also see why I'm wary of spiritual growth resolutions, lists, and goals. I am afraid of taking charge of my own change, of forgetting who is really in charge of my sanctification. I so easily forget that it's the Holy Spirit who leads, convicts, transforms, and grows His fruit in me.
As a friend recently said, it's interesting that the world gets a glimpse of what grace is with each new year's fresh start. But, I thought, how quickly the fresh start gets lost beneath the list of things to do differently, the weight loss resolutions, the habits that need changing.
And oh how we do the same with grace, receiving it for salvation, but not for our sanctification. We live as if our salvation was the gift, but the rest is up to us, and we sure better get it right to be worthy of the fresh start we received in grace. Like the resolutions of millions of people that falter almost as soon as they're made, a goal of sanctification without grace doesn't live long.
I did all that way for way too long and learned through it all that I am not God for myself; I am not sovereign and in control over my own life. I am not Jesus for myself; I do not have to reconcile myself to God or try to be perfect in His sight. I am not the Holy Spirit for myself; I don't have to lead and convict and produce life transformation in myself (or others). My job description is to respond. I must surrender to God's Lordship, listen for His leading, ask and then wait for His movement, and obey whatever it is that He asks of me. Who knows, that might be a goal or two, but the point is that I can fully trust the leadership and conviction of God.
He is in charge of my change.
Sweet Ashlee Proffitt, a fellow church planting wife, made me the beautiful calendar pictured above. If you'd like your own, use my code HAPPY2014 for 15% off! Thanks, Ashlee!