It was like any other Sunday morning, but for some reason the speaker’s sermon pierced me and tears flowed unexpectedly.  Joe’s message was about what he had learned through the recent death of his 37 year old brother, Chris.  Chris had been a young pastor, with a wife and kids, but a devastating diagnosis of 4th stage melanoma interrupted his life.

And just like that, this man who served his King, was taken into His Presence.

I’m one who loves a new year.  The clean slate fuels all kinds of optimism in me for a fresh start.  It’s like having a huge dispenser of “White Out” that automatically kicks into action at 12 am, January 1.  And let’s face it, since most of us didn’t do so well on all those resolutions last year, the opportunity for starting over is sweet.  A second chance at life.

But 37 year old’s with advanced melanoma shake the foundation of what one resolves to do with the days of a given year.

The term resolution implies using my own effort to achieve what I weigh as important.  Why not let God, not only set my priorities, but enable me to accomplish them?  It might not look like losing weight or reading more books or becoming more patient.  Or maybe it would.  The emphasis is not on the actual goal, but who is setting it and how its reached. A desire for personal improvement isn’t wrong, nor is the attempt to accomplish it.

The problem becomes when we own it.

Hannah Brencher recently used a phrase about approaching the New Year that really resonated with me – “to be less expectant of myself and more expectant of God”.

The bigger God becomes to me, the more of life I’m able to turn over to Him.  So when an ugly diagnosis or any catastrophic event comes my way, which could happen to any of us, my days have already been entrusted to Him.

I don’t want to minimize the magnitude of tragedy.  Pain and death are unwelcome parts of this life because we’re wired to survive.  But trusting the One who cradles each day for our goals, application, and empowerment, erases the seeming randomness of life and glorifies Him.

Will you join me this coming year in leaning into Him?  Will you allow God’s piercing gaze to cut away what needs to be pruned?  Will you, with me, allow Him to lift the film from our eyes to see what truly matters, so with the time He yields to us, we’ll live with Kingdom intent.

And will you allow Him to carry us across the threshold into a new year, resting in His strength and wisdom, a place where failed self improvements and devastating medical diagnoses cannot limit God’s eternal purposes?

 

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