I was catching up on a bit of reading the other day when, a passage really caught my imagination and I asked myself the question; shall I make this my resolution for 2018?
I am sure I am not the only one out there who makes New Years Resolutions – I hope! Over the years I have made many, from the serious to the very silly, from the mundane to the extraordinary. But, if I am truthful about it, I very rarely keep them. No, to be really honest I have not kept any!
There was the one year I remember clearly. I awoke on 1st January and decided “this year, I will not be bad tempered or stressed. I will be calm, cool and collected”. It lasted until I got out of bed and it was all down hill from there!
Because of my failure in sticking to my resolutions, for a few years I stopped. “I am what I am” I said, “people will have to accept me as I am”. On the face of it, it sounds good. But, what it denied was the possibility of growth, development and change. You see, I am what I am but, I am not what I can be.
Life is the process of becoming who we can be.
The reason why I gave up making my resolutions is because of my failure in keeping them. Failure hurts, failure carries with it a sting, guilt, regrets, worthlessness and many other emotions and feelings besides. But, failure doesn’t have to have the last word.
My evidence for this comes from The Bible. You can find many examples of failure, regret and growth from the people that are in there.
One of my favourite stories is found in the Old Testament. It concerns a prophet who is given a task, by God, to go where he doesn’t want to go to speak to a people he doesn’t like. He runs away, ends up in the sea and is swallowed by a giant fish. When he comes to his senses, he does what God has asked him to do and a nation is transformed by it.
You would think that would be the “happy ever after” part but, it isn’t. Because God has shown mercy to people the prophet didn’t like, he has a major temper tantrum! How, I wish there was a Jonah chapter 5 just so I could find out what happens next!
But, what I see most of all in that story, is that failure is not the end. Whether it is failure through our action, inaction or weakness. God can take our failures, and through them we can grow.
That’s why I am calling for a New Years Revolution (you get it now – the title wasn’t a spelling mistake!)
A New Years Revolution calls for a change of thinking, a turn-a-round in our understanding of failure and mistakes. What if, instead of seeing failure as the last word, we saw it as part of the learning process, part of the process of growth? I want us to think instead of, it’s okay to fail, because there are lessons we can learn from our failures.
The nations of Israel and Judah failed many times and, at one point, they were living with some dire consequences to their failures. The prophet Jeremiah looked ahead and saw what God could do in the face of their failures;
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
So why not resolve this year to become a New Years Revolutionary?
What is the key to our revolution? Well, King George VI in his Christmas speech in 1939 summed it up beautifully when he addressed the nation. He said;
“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”
He then read some lines from a poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins which say;
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”*
What better advice can anyone give than, “put your hand into the Hand of God”?