Sunday, January 5, 2014

Peace in the New Year

It's 2014.  A new year has come.  And with the New Year you inevitably get New Year's Resolutions.

Yes I am one of those ridiculous people who make them every year.  I just can't seem to help myself.  A few of them I have even managed to keep, but most of them I haven't.  

I am a goal setter by nature.  I actually enjoy pushing myself…growing... getting stronger (physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually) and doing things I never thought I would be able to (like go to seminary).  So no surprise resolutions have always appealed to me.  

Through the years I have learned a few things about setting goals.  I only set goals I know are attainable.  Yes I will push myself, but I don't set any goal so lofty that I give up before I even get started.  Each goal I set I know, deep down in my heart, is attainable.  It might take sacrifice, a change in routine or giving up on the status quo, but I know I can achieve each goal.

I have also learned to give myself a lot of grace.  Perhaps too much grace some might argue but I do what works for me.  If I have a set back, I don't give up, I reevaluate, refocus, and start again.  

The final thing I have noted about the goals I set is this, in order to be successful at any given goal, I must look closely at the heart of the matter.  What has motivated me to set that goal and what do I really hope to accomplish?  Looking past my goal to the motivation behind it, allows me to address the true issue.  For me, often, this true issue has to do with a inner restlessness inside me, a lack of peace.  I don't like my body; I am financially undisciplined; I don't want my husband to die at age 59 like his father did.  These motivating factors are all based on a lack of peace.  

Losing 10 pounds, hitting the gym, eating better, financial discipline or a more organized life are all excellent goals.  But if what you really need is a peace that passes understanding down deep in your soul,  you won't find it on the scale, in the mirror, the food on your plate or in your wallet.  Trust me, this is a lesson I have learned the hard way.  True peace, the peace that passes understanding can only come through Jesus the Christ.  

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious about anything... not our weight, our diet, our finances, our lack of organization, our schedules..not ANYTHING, but to present all of these requests (worries, hindrances, concerns, whatever you want to call them) to God, in prayer, with a thankful heart for all He has already done in our lives.  And the peace of God, which transcends ALL understanding - a kind of peace we can't even begin to understand or explain, a peace that surpasses the details of your life and enters your very soul - this peace will guard your heart and your mind.

In John 16:33 Jesus himself tells us that in Him we will have peace.  In this world we will have trouble, we can not escape it.  The life of a Christian is not a life free of trouble, things will go wrong, trouble will come our way, hardship will happen.  We know this, we have experienced this.  Life in this world is not always easy.  But take heart, for Christ has overcome this world.  And in Him you may have peace.  Peace that passes understanding and resides deep in your soul.

That is what I hope for you this coming year.  Peace.  The kind of peace that can only be found in Christ our Lord.  

May you find Peace in the New Year.