How’s the year ahead looking so far? Is it a great big bear hug of a calendar? Or a freezing cold handshake? Are you feeling optimistic? Unsure? Overwhelmed – even frightened? Perhaps, like me, you’re fighting the urge to throw yourself headlong into the pursuit of (random) self-improvements. You see, I know that the gospel is all about grace. I know I don’t need to do anything to earn God’s love. But whilst I appreciate His support and everything, I kind of want to sort things out myself. Just to be, y’know, safe. And this strategy normally works a treat – right up until I dissolve into a weeping puddle of exhaustion. At this point I’ll beat a hasty retreat from the ‘world’s’ (aka, my) demands, tell the Lord I’ve learnt my lesson , wait until I start feeling a bit better and …start the whole process anew. Take it from me, it’s the only way to make sure 2011 pans out ok for all of us.
But enough about me, eh? (Well, for the next sentence anyway). How was 2010 for you…? Brilliant? Mixed? Twelve months you’d rather forget? As you look in the mirror, how does another year grab you? According to a survey of 2200 people reported in The Sunday Telegraph, (2 Jan 2011), only thirteen percent of women said they felt happy with their reflection. Seventeen percent said that they felt ‘fat’ (all the women surveyed were a healthy BMI), and almost as many said they felt ‘down’ when they looked in the mirror. Twice as many women as men said that they felt ‘ashamed’ when they looked at their bodies. Little wonder then that celebrities, magazines, supermarkets and gyms are trumpeting weight loss, as the great New Year hope. Because folks, here’s a glorious revelation – bad stuff won’t happen to you if you’re slim. (Just ask Victoria Beckham – happiest woman alive). And if you are thin, well, then you need to sort out your priorities. What else could you possibly want? (Perhaps get a new wardrobe to be safe). Or if the happy hormones aren’t yet kicking in , you might want to try something completely new. Something, like say, ‘urine therapy’. I quote;
It is best to drink morning, midstream urine. Start with a few drops and gradually build up to a glass. It is a good tonic, preventive aid and to heal minor illnesses. Diluted urine used as eye drops and eardrops helps heal conjunctivitis, ear infections and glaucoma. Sinus can be cured by sniffing urine.
Not convinced? How about this?
Massaging urine into your skin is the best beauty treatment you can ever get. Old urine up to 4 days old works best but has a strong odour. Massage urine into your skin and leave it on or wash off after an hour with plain water or a mild soap. Also when used as an after-shave or after using epilators, urine can leave the skin feeling soft and smooth.
Hmmmm. Perhaps we could try another approach. Like considering how our spiritual ancestors faced the prospect of uncertainty and change. How about Abraham? In Genesis 12 we read that he is standing before the Lord at the ripe old age of 75, only to be told that … he’s won the Canaanite Rollover? Lot’s bought him that cosy Grandad flat in Zion Avenue? The pension’s come through and he can devote his last few years to the grapes down the allotment? Er – no. More like this;
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Now, these are some big promises – but it’s also a big call. Abram’s being told to leave behind everything he knows – to step from familiarity and security into an unknown and frightening future. But here’s the thing. He does it, without hesitation. He trusts and he obeys.
How? What’s he got that enables him to step out with such faith? As I look to the year ahead, can the Lord equip me to do the same thing?
Hebrews 11 tells us what Abraham’s faith looked like:
he was looking forward to the city with foundations (v10)
he considered Him faithful who had promised (v11)
he reasoned that God could raise the dead (v19)
As I eyeball 2011, with all its challenges and potential pitfalls, I am reminded that I can do the same thing. Not because of my godliness or good intentions. In fact, not because of any sentence that starts with the words ‘I’.
It’s because of Him. My Lord is the same God who spoke to Abraham. He speaks today and He also calls us to trust Him with our present and our futures. That trust will look different for each of us – it could be money, relationships, character or something else entirely. But we can trust Him, not because of our fidelity, but because of His. Not through our works, but by His Spirit working in and for us.
This year, I’m not looking to the hope of a new, slimmer or better-looking me. I’m looking forward to a future, secure in the Lord. Not in this world, great though it may be, but in the next. In a city where the heartbeat is about more than hair colour and BMI.
This year, my prayer is that I’m not reliant on my resolutions or will-power to achieve the things I need. Instead that I look to the Lord. To trust His promises and to live in His grace, a day at a time.
This year, my prayer is that I won’t allow the world’s reasoning to determine my desires and goals. Although I can’t see what’s coming, I know that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me. He gives me confidence and He brings me peace – whatever the circumstances.