January 1st – I resolve to read my bible in one year. Day one.
January 2nd – I read day two in my bible.
January 8th – Say, wasn’t I supposed to be reading my bible every day? Well, I guess I blew it. The whole year is a wash now. Maybe next January…
That’s how it always happens. In January I promise I’m going to do 100 sit-ups a day, give up sugar, run five miles each morning, and contribute all of my spare change to those less fortunate while making time for eight hours of prayer every evening before bed. About three hours later I find out exactly how weak my resolve truly is when I hear the muffled sound of the vanilla ice cream calling me from the freezer in the garage. I try to ignore it, but end up failing. I give up and say to myself, “Oh well – maybe next year. Now where’s the hot fudge? Hmmm… a new episode of ‘Monk’ is on tonight. Ooh, it’s an eight hour marathon… sweet!”
After thirty-eight years on this planet I’ve yet to endure more than a couple of weeks before my New Year’s resolutions crumble. And those are the easy ones. So rather than give up this year, I’ve come up with my own personal New Year’s resolutions list that I know will be practically impossible NOT to keep. I resolve…
• To finally get around to changing the coffee in the coffee maker.
• When I hear a funny joke, to not reply, “LOL… LOL”
• Not to get involved with rap music.
• To take all the vacation time that’s coming to me.
• If someone offers me a cold Pepsi, to smile and say, “Thanks, don’t mind if I do.”
• To leave work every day at the end of my shift.
• When I get my paychecks this year, to cash them promptly.
• If the IRS sends me any back this year, not to argue with them about it.
• To not walk a tight-rope while gargling peanut butter. (I borrowed this one from my father – and he’s still going strong after many, many years without breaking it. Way to go, Dad! We’re proud of you!)
But then, resolutions and promises such as this aren’t going to help me grow all that much as a human being or as a Christian, are they? The problem is that it takes character to keep the worthwhile promises – even those promises I make only to myself. And building character is hard work.
We all will fail, because we are all human. I can encourage others when they fall and forgive them if they wrong me. I can lift them up, and say, “Hey, welcome to the human race! You okay? Good. I forgive you – now let’s get you back up on that horse…”
But when it comes to my own failures, I rarely leave room for forgiveness and second chances. Why is that? Am I not just as important and loved by God as that person I just encouraged and forgave a few moments ago?
I just recently came to the realization that our failed New Year’s resolutions are a wonderful example of God’s love and forgiveness. Really – because our failures in these resolutions are so obvious and greatly magnified in our own eyes. We can’t help but see how big of a failure we are! We promise to pray every day, to stop drinking, smoking, to stop swearing, to read our bible every day, to honor God in everything we do… and then we fail.
Fortunately, that’s when God steps in and says, “Hey, welcome to the human race! You okay? Good. I forgive you – now let’s get you back up on that horse…”