A New Year

IMG_0947What do you look forward to most when a new year begins? We celebrate the start of each year with good intentions for change, but why do we seek that change in the first place? For me, I think the new year brings the hope that I will be successful at things where I have failed in the past. Perhaps I will finally lose those seven pounds I've been trying to get rid of since our vacation to California in February! Perhaps I will finally work out (exercise) because I enjoy it, not just so that I don't hurt. Perhaps this year I will find joy in the things that have become more like drudgery than pleasure. Perhaps I will shake this stupid cold that hit me on Christmas Day before next week kicks in. Perhaps I will finally find time to declutter everything from my closets and drawers to the constant ads that keep hitting my inbox, begging me to buy this or that.

Those seem like worthy goals, don't they? And yet...that's not my New Year's desire.

You see, I think there is something innate in each of us that wants to change for a far deeper reason, and it has nothing to do with fitting into clothes that are getting too tight or even simplifying our lives. It's a spiritual longing for more. And this past month, I've come to realize that even those who love Jesus can face this longing. It's not that we need more of Jesus. He needs more of us.

Traverse City 219People spend their lives asking questions - how did we get here? Why are we here? For the Christian, we know that God created us, but do we grasp why He did that? If we are followers of Jesus, we are here for one main purpose. To be like Him.

Philippians 2:5 (Amplified Version) says, "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus..."

The chapter goes on to tell us that Jesus became like us (was made in our likeness). Why did He do that? So that when He appears, we will become like Him. (1 John 3:2)

Jesus came humbly, obediently, to fulfill the purpose His Father had for Him--to become our Deliverer, our Savior, our Redeemer. He did not come to condemn the world but to save it. He did not seek those who thought themselves healthy, but sought those who knew they were sick on the inside, breakers of God's code, His laws, His standards.

It's this purpose, to be like Jesus, to know Him better, that spurs us to start a new year with a Bible reading plan or commit to being more grateful, or to pray more often, rather than just shoot arrow prayers heavenward because we're too busy to really spend the time interceding for one another. (I'm speaking to myself - no guilt intended here.)

This is my New Year's Desire.

photo-89But trust me in this - if we set this as our goal, we will face opposition. (Speaking again from experience.) We war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and all three will fight to keep us from changing. But God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. He longs for us to know Him, to spend time with Him. He is the only person who can keep His promise to never leave us nor forsake us. But how easy in our humanness it is to forsake Him.

A month ago I began a different kind of prayer. "Lord, make me like Jesus." When I find my joy waning, my anxiety rising, frustration and disappointment filling a too ready a space in my heart, I remember this prayer. And then I ask myself, "What was Jesus like?"

But that's the best part of the challenge. To read the Scriptures that tell of Him, to observe His creation, to stand in awe of His glory.

Will you join me in this prayer? I'm finding my life richer, peace fuller, joy sweeter the more I seek Him.

I pray that in this new year, you will find Him nearer too.