Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“New” on the label does not work with hand-me-downs .................... Parables 147

When I was a little girl my mother often took apart a dress that could no longer be worn by its owner and remade it into a garment for me or my sister. Even though we had not worn it before, the title “a new dress” hardly seemed suitable. Our friends and classmates may not have seen the fabric on anyone else, but we knew that our new dress was really an old one.

Later on, my children wore pants made from an uncle’s slacks or a jacket from someone’s cast-off coat. Although they were happy to get these things, they were much happier with something made from scratch with new fabric, Anything else had belonged to someone else and was a make-over.

At the beginning of a new year, most of us feel our lives need a make-over. It is time for resolutions. Old habits need breaking. New habits must begin. Diets, stop smoking schemes, projects, you name it, let’s give it a fresh start.

The few pounds gained over the holidays drop off in January but return in March. Just one indulgence brings back that discarded bad habit worse than ever. The half finished projects are still there, waiting for next year’s resolutions. Fresh starts go stale so quickly.

Perhaps resolutions are something like recycled clothes. So often we just make-do or make-over. In fact, I’ve tried to take myself apart and put myself back together into a slightly different style. While the result may have looked different to an untrained eye, nothing was really new. Even if it fooled someone else, I knew my “new” self was just a recycled cast off. But there is a better way.

First, since resolutions are almost always expected to be discarded, give them a new name: goals. The word has a more permanent sound.

Second, recognize newness of life comes God. Make-overs are only the best we can do. As we trust Him to forgive our sins and failures, He will grant us a new start by giving us His gift of new life. “If any man be in Christ Jesus, old things pass away, and all things become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) What a promise for a new year!

Third, instead of determining goals on our own, remember what God says about making plans: “Woe to the obstinate children... those who carry out plans that are not mine...these are rebellious people... children unwilling to listen to the LORD’S instruction.” (Isaiah 30) Therefore, daily pray and seek God’s will in His word, before setting goals.

Fourth, when sure of what God wants accomplished in the new year, write it down, I keep a small binder on my desk with GOALS written on the outside spine. Each page has a general goal with steps needed toward its accomplishment. Several times a week, I look at these goals and pray about them. I even tell others what they are so someone will hold me accountable. This careful organization especially motivates people who get satisfaction from checking “to-do” items off a list.

Finally, do our part. God will not “zap” our life while we sit in an easy chair. Take action on the”steps” remembering our part is important, but we won’t achieve godly goals without prayer and reliance upon God. It is obedience to His power at work in  us that will see us through. Remember, prayerfully setting goals with continued prayer and appropriate action that is done in His newness of life will produce results.

Wearing make-over clothes isn’t so bad; but I have no desire for a patched-up, made-over lifestyle. God starts from scratch. He gives His people new life with white robes of righteousness when they believe in and receive His Son. He daily energizes that life as we submit to Him, enabling the accomplishment of the plans He puts in our hearts. He is the secret of keeping resolutions all year long!

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