Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Every year, people make resolutions. Some resolve to lose weight, some to fix relationships, and many make several resolutions and try to stick to them all.

I won't tell you what my resolutions are, but I can tell you that I, like many others, plan to keep my resolutions. What makes me think I have any shot at keeping them? I am praying for help and guidance. Not that that means I'll actually achieve my goals, but it does give me a fighting chance.

Praying. Now there's something that a lot of people could do more of. I know I could. Can we ever pray too much? Is there such a thing? No, I don't believe so. I mean, sure, some people could spend hours on end praying. Luther did, and he still felt that he was inadequate.

But the great thing about our Lutheran faith is that we know that there is nothing that says we have to do anything, or how we have to do it, or when or how many times. Some Christian denominations do give those regulations. They are, as my husband would label them, "pietistic."

Lutherans believe in a cross-centered theology, as opposed to a theology of glory or works-righteousness. That means that we recognize that there is nothing at all that we can do to get us closer to God or to get us into Heaven. Jesus did all of that for us.

So, how does that tie in to New Year's resolutions, you ask? Well, there are also some people who strive to be closer to God, who want to do everything they can to make it more likely that they'll get into Heaven when they die. Now, of course, eventually, they're going to mess up. And I'm guessing that it won't be more than a few days, if that long, before they do. Then, how are they going to feel? Are they going to be depressed? Will they be filled with despair?

The truth is that making a New Year's resolution to do better and try to get closer to God is good, but that's not what saves you: Jesus did all of the work for all of us. He is there to catch us when we fall. He picks up the pieces of our broken hearts, minds and bodies, and carries us home to Him.

So, when we fail to meet the goals we set out for ourselves in our New Year's resolutions, we may be frustrated and disappointed with ourselves, but God is there for us, and will be there to help us get back on track or realize more realistic goals. With His help, we can achieve many things.

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