-taken from Gospel Coalition blog
Today is the very first day of a brand new year. And for many that means a fresh start.
This is the year. It all starts now. We resolve to turn over a new leafand this time were serious. This time were really going to try, were not going to quit. We promise ourselves that were going to quit bad habits and start good ones. Were going to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. Were going to pray more, serve more, give more, and read the Bible more. Were going to finally be all that we can be. No more messing around.
I say try. Seriously, try. You might make some great strides this year. Im hoping to. There are a lot of improvements Im hoping to make this year. But dont be surprised a year from now when you realize that youve fallen short
For those who try and try, year after year, again and again, to get better and better, with seemingly less and less success
I have good news for you: youre in good company!
My friend Jean Larroux sent me this powerful illustration that he got from Jack Miller.
Miller recounts the valiant efforts of Samuel Johnson (a literary giant of the 18th century) to fight sloth and to get up early in the morning to pray. Taken from Johnsons diary and prayer journal, Jack gives us a recordthrough the yearsof Johnsons life-long resolutions, failures, and frustrations:
1738: He wrote, Oh Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.
1757: (19 years later) Oh mighty God, enable me to shake off sloth and redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin by diligent application of the days yet remaining.
1759: (2 years later) Enable me to shake off idleness and sloth.
1761: I have resolved until I have resolved that I am afraid to resolve again.
1764: My indolence since my last reception of the sacrament has sunk into grossest sluggishness. My purpose is from this time to avoid idleness and to rise early.
1764: (5 months later) He resolves to rise early, not later than 6 if I can.
1765: I purpose to rise at 8 because, though, I shall not rise early it will be much earlier than I now rise for I often lie until 2.
1769: I am not yet in a state to form any resolutions. I purpose and hope to rise early in the morning, by 8, and by degrees, at 6.
1775: When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal. He resolves again to rise at 8.
1781: (3 years before his death) I will not despair, help me, help me, oh my God. He resolves to rise at 8 or sooner to avoid idleness.
I love the never-quit effort of Johnson. What he chronicles sounds so much like me over the years. Try and fail. Fail then try. Try and succeed. Succeed then fail. Two steps forward. One step back. One step forward. Three steps back.
What Im most deeply grateful for (as was Johnson) is that Gods love for me, approval of me, and commitment to me is not dependent on my success and resolve, but on Christs success and resolve for me. The gospel is the good news announcing Christs infallible devotion to us in spite of our lack of devotion to him. The gospel is not a command to hang onto Jesus. Rather, its a promise that no matter how weak and unsuccessful your faith and efforts may be, God is always holding on to you.
Its ironically comforting to me as this new year gets under way that I am weak and He is strongthat while my love for Jesus will continue to fall short, Jesus love for me will never fall short. For, as Mark Twain said, Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, your dog would get in and you would stay out.
Happy New Year! - TULLIAN TCHIVIDJIAN