“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.”—Romans 6;6-7, NLT
I love a new year. New beginnings. New seasons of life. This could be the year…no more Pull-ups at night! Both kids in school 5 days a week! The end to Barbie-mania! Many of us begin the year with new resolutions—promises to ourselves and to others on how we will improve over the next year. It’s the time of year to clean the slate, or at a minimum the clutter of wrapping papers and boxes, and start fresh.
Isn’t it great that we don’t have to wait until January 1 to start over? 2 Corinthians 5:12 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come in!” And how often does the new come in? The prophet Jeremiah tells us in Lamentations 3:22-23 that the “Lord’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” Maybe you don’t need compassions every morning, but I need them several times a day, like when I need to get out the door, during crisis central (dinner time) or when the kids lollygag at bedtime.
My kids currently have me involuntarily enrolled at SDBC, Sleep Deprivation Boot Camp. Andrea, nearly 7, is waking two times a night with coughing fits and asthma. Michael, 5, wakes up at 4 am to go to the bathroom and sometimes misses the mark in his swaying, sleepy state. Their timing, and my difficulty in falling back to sleep, is spaced just so that I narrowly miss the one-solid-hour-of-sleep at a time mark. When I don’t get my sleep, I’m spontaneously replaced at some point during the night by a wretched killer she-bear. Hence my need for fresh starts.
One of my resolutions is a weekly review of keeping my resolutions. I already know that alone I am incapable of success—I’ve proven that faithfully after 20-some-odd years of making and rapidly breaking them. God says there is a way in Zechariah 4:6, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” With that in mind, this year I’ve claimed some promises to help me with my resolutions:
1. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I’ve screwed up plenty this year—this morning, in fact. God promises to erase my sins if I sincerely ask forgiveness. According to this promise, if I confess, God can cleanse…which I can test Him in when I deliberately choose to turn away from (repent) wrong behaviors and habits…with the help of His Spirit and choose to maybe count…to 400 if necessary…before acting next time.
2. John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” The more of God’s Word I commit to memory, the more His Word will come to mind—like those light bulbs over cartoons’ heads--to guide my decisions and actions, and eventually my desires will be in line with God’s desires…but His Spirit can’t remind me of His Word if I haven’t read it.
3. Mark 11:24 “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” First, pray. Second, believe. Otherwise, there is no third, which is receive.
4. Proverbs 13:4 “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” I even wrote down the definition of “diligent” in my calendar—“done with careful, steady effort; painstaking”. That is, it ain’t gonna be easy folks, but if I’m diligent, God promises to fulfill my desires.
If you’re like me, you have grand visions of how things will look this time next year. Then you wake up. Fortunately, we’re all in this together and by God’s grace we’ll make it through together. Let’s check in with one another regularly for an update, shall we?
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through…his body…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another.”—Hebrews 10:19-25
Rhonda DiGenova and her husband of 32 years are empty nesters in Vancouver WA. Kidspirations was originally a newsletter column Rhonda wrote while their children were preschoolers that she called Tales from the Crib…and Beyond! Their children are thriving adults—in spite of colossal parenting fails. Andrea is now 24, married to Juan and lives in Idaho. Michael is 23 and works full time in eastern Washington. Both are actively involved in ministering to college students.