This year, resolve to be lazier. Many of us start each new year with gritted determination to lose weight, get fit, or change some bad habits. These changes sound easy in theory—just stop eating so much and get active—but change is hard in practice and we often end up back where we started.
The early church leader Paul, in Romans 7:17-20, put it like this:
‘I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions … I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does’ (The Message).
But what does Jesus have to do with changing our diet, or getting off the sofa? The theme of the entire Bible is that all our gritted teeth and self-imposed rules are not enough to save us from ourselves. We need God’s grace. And this loving, merciful grace came to us in the form of Jesus Christ.
True change begins when we realise that we don’t have the answers, and that we need to surrender to God’s greater, loving guidance. His grace is not too short to reach into the everyday habits we want to change. God created us as physical beings, as well as a spirit and mind. And, as our loving Creator, he cares about our physical body.
There’s a catch though: true surrender is not about manipulating God to get in line with our plan. It’s about letting God change us his way; trusting that as our creator he longs for us to be the best we can be.
And God’s way is not about putting a bandage on the wound, but about healing the wound itself.
If you can’t break out of bad habits, God may be asking you why you need them. What are you getting out of them? And how (and why) does change make you feel uncomfortable—emotionally and physically? None of us would have developed any bad habits, if they didn’t meet some need. God can help us deal with these wounds, if we bring them to him. He promises to meet our needs.
So this year, resolve to be more lazy. Instead of gritted teeth and white knuckles, fall into God’s grace. This is his promise to you: ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message).
By Ingrid Barratt (abridged from War Cry, 14 January 2011, p3)
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