If you made New Year's resolutions they are now about 18 days old. How is it going? If you are like a few, you are still going strong. If you are like others, you lasted for a few days and then gave up. Still others may have given up on the whole idea of even making resolutions.
Wherever we are on the above spectrum, the new year is a natural time to re-evaluate our lives: past, present and future. It's a time to ask ourselves questions. What is going well and how can that continue? What is going poorly and what can be done about that?
Naturally, to make this kind of self-examination most helpful I believe that an evaluation of our spiritual growth should be an integral part of the process. Our lives were planned and designed by God. Thus, not consulting God leaves out the most important perspective on the meaning and purpose of our lives on this earth.
However, we shouldn't think that Dec. 31 is the only time we can ponder growth in our lives. The Bible says that God's mercies are new every morning; therefore, our evaluations should take place daily. "For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him,' " Lamentations 3:22b-24.
As we work toward spiritual growth there will be failures just as there were in our physical growth. When we learned to talk, we kept experimenting with sounds until we created the correct combinations to get a positive reaction from the adults in our world. We continued learning and fine-tuning our language until we could carry on complete, intelligent conversations. When we learned to walk, we didn't give up after falling down a few times. If we had, we'd still be crawling to work. We all fly off the handle from time to time, make choices we know we shouldn't make and disappoint those around us because of our sin. However, as we continually seek God's help as part of our relationship with him, negative behaviors should become less frequent.
Let us approach each new day as David did when he wrote "But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you," Psalm 88:13.
Why not begin now; remembering as we wake that it's a new day and God's love can help us meet each challenge. "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life," Psalm 143:8. When we ask for guidance in his unfailing love, God promises, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you," Psalm 32:8
I'm not terribly fond of waking up in the morning but these kinds of verses make it easier. Give it a try.
Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, are serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Germany.