New beginnings can last in Christ
Anytime I hear the phrase “new beginnings,” I think of Saturday Night Live.
There’s a sketch where Dana Carvey plays a washed-up rock star looking to make a comeback. In a meeting with a record label, he sits at a piano, plays a few melodies and sings asinine lyrics that he’s clearly making up on the spot.
“New beginnings, new beginnings, new beginnings, new beginnings,” he sings at one point — and then he says, “You can kinda see how it could develop from there.”
It’s funny because the people in the room are impressed. At another point during Carvey’s ad-libbing, they listen with their eyes closed, soaking it all in. This despite his nonsensical rhymes and phrases like “new beginnings” that never go anywhere.
Much like Dana Carvey and his “new beginnings,” many of us will make a New Year’s resolution, post about it on social media, include some appropriate hashtags and pretend we know what we’re doing. Our friends will be impressed (or act like it). But in reality, we might have no idea what we’ve gotten ourselves into.
We might manage to wing it and keep our resolution for a couple months. Then circumstances, poor planning and/or weak willpower, inevitably, will defeat us.
I recently wrote in a little notepad several resolutions, any of which would be difficult:
“Miss no more than 18 workouts with Paul Lacoste in 2019.”
“Eat recommended number of calories.”
“Spend less.” But how?
“NO MORE TAKEOUT.” Hilarious.
So how do we make good resolutions that will stretch us without being totally out of reach?
I thought of several strategies that could help me keep my resolutions. Said strategies might or might not work. But first and foremost, I need to go to God for His wisdom. I want my resolutions to match His will for me — and if they do, that’s when I’ll really need help.
Let me tell you something: If you resolve to do God’s specific will in your life, the devil will try to stop you any way he can. (To quote Dana Carvey again, in the voice of Church Lady, “Could it be … SAAATAN?” Yes it could, actually, as humorous as that line is.)
Since I’ve started running Mississippi Christian Living, the enemy has pestered me a lot. He’ll distract me with social media to try and keep me from coming into work at a decent hour. He’ll try to make me antsy or lonely or stir-crazy so I’ll go back home before I’ve put in a day’s work. And he’ll try to use good things — things that I think might need my immediate attention — to take me away from good works I know God wants me doing.
I love this magazine with my heart and soul. It is my passion. And somehow the enemy can still get me to look away.
But the truth is, the devil isn’t “making” me do anything. I’ve just chosen to listen to his lies, at times, and have forgotten the gospel.
If you have put your faith in Jesus — if you’ve trusted that His death on the cross paid for all your sins, and that He rose from the dead — then you have everything you’ll ever need. Jesus hasn’t just taken the punishment for our sins: He’s given us His perfect righteousness and made us new creations, people who have God’s law in their hearts. He’s made us capable, by God’s grace, of doing His will.
I’m preaching to myself too, trust me.
Need more inspiration for your new beginnings? No problem. Read our cover story on civil rights veteran Dr. John Perkins, who even at 88 is not so much “retiring” as he is shifting priorities. Or for some practical help with healthy resolutions, check out Rebecca Turner’s recipe suggestions on our Food For Thought page. And if you’re all “resolution”ed out and you just want to binge on books, movies and music, check out our expanded Rave Reviews section: Our 2018 Faves.
Remember, if your “new beginnings” tend to fade away fast, return to Christ. Trust in God. Surrender to Him. It might be tough and it might even seem impossible at times, but if you are a believer, Jesus has already won your victory. Follow Him and He will help you walk in it.
That’s what I intend to do.