Drop Your “If Only” in 2014
I can’t help but notice a common thread in many of our new year’s resolutions. Not only can our resolutions show where our desires have gone outside of the bounds of God’s word driving us towards our small idols, but our resolutions sometimes reveal where we’ve misplaced our hope.
We all have that one circumstance or problem person that we wish, hope, pray would change. We think,
Maybe this will be the year….
- I’ll get a new job.
- I’ll lose more weight.
- I’ll find a husband.
- I’ll have a baby.
- My child will stop acting like __________.
- We’ll be able to buy a new house.
- We’ll actually be able to save some money.
- My husband will finally understand me.
- That prickly person will grow up or repent.
- Maybe I’ll finally get to ____________.
Or we think, If only
- My husband were________.
- My children were ________.
- My church were _________.
- My family were _________.
Recurring desires should be like an alarm to our souls warning us that we’re focusing too much on the “dream.” Because sometimes we believe that our dream-world would be the perfect reality. And although it may be a perfectly legit desire, but the amount we desire it may be all off kilter.
When wanting something that God has not allowed for whatever reason causes you grief, unhappiness and discontentment, realize that you are looking to be fulfilled in the wrong place.
Instead, pray that this year,
come what may,
you’ll find your fulfillment in God alone.
Imagine if we prayed, “God, do whatever it takes this year to make me dependent on you. Strip away the desires that keep me from desiring you alone.”
What is that one thing for you? The thing you can’t let go? The thing that makes you unhappy? Drives you crazy?
Elizabeth Elliot offers some counsel:
“Life is likely to hold many forms of torture and dismay for the unhappy person and for all who refuse to receive with thanksgiving instead of complaint the place in life God has chosen for them. The torture is self-inflicted, for God has not rejected their prayers. He knows better than any of us do what furthers our salvation. Our true happiness is to be realized precisely through his refusals, which are always mercies. His choice is flawlessly contrived to give the deepest kind of joy as soon as it is embraced.” Keep A Quiet Heart.
The reason for our unhappiness is simple: we are discontent, refusing to trust God to do what is good and right for us.
Trusting God means letting go of the control, plans, desires, and dreams of our own heart and choosing to embrace the path that God designs as better than anything that our own heart can dream up.
If it sounds easy, it isn’t. It’s only easy when you KNOW without a doubt that God is good and that His ways are best. It’s only possible when we are crucified with Christ, and the flesh is dead. As soon as the flesh rises up with its desires and demands, it needs to be put down and in its place under the Lordship of Christ. Unless you are crucified with Christ and you’ve submitted yourself, all the rest is “pious fraud” as Oswald Chambers puts it.
Are you trying to run your own life and control all of your own outcomes? Let this year be the year that you “Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.” Col. 3:15
Do you refuse to accept what God has given? Let this year be the year that you “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, and you will find rest unto your soul.” Matt 11:29
Think your home, church, workplace, sphere of influence is totally out of control? Not sure what God is doing and you’re scared? Let this be the year that you internalize this truth: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Looking for peace, but not sure where to start? God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
I loved this prayer and found it a fitting meditation for a new year. I’m printing it out as a reminder.
“Grant, O Lord my God, that I may never fall away in success or in failure; that I may not be prideful in prosperity nor dejected in adversity. Let me rejoice only in what unites us and sorrow only in what separates us. May I strive to please no one or fear to displease anyone except Yourself. May I see always the things that are eternal and never those that are only temporal. May I shun any joy that is without You and never seek any that is beside You. O Lord, may I delight in any work I do for You and tire of any rest that is apart from You. My God, let me direct my heart towards You, and in my failings, always repent with a purpose of amendment.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas