Off and Running . . . but Where?

New year, new goals, new election season (wait–really, again, already?), new outlooks, new possibilities, etc., etc. What is it about our eagerness to turn pages, mark change points, and just plain start over? We do it every year, often citing the same changes that were thought to be necessary the year before. We do it with things like our weight, our less desirable habits, our financial planning, our spiritual disciplines, our relationships with particular persons, and a host of other things that would seem to offer a more successful life if only we could actually make the changes and make them last for more than a few weeks. For the record, one of my goals is to be more faithful in filling up this blog with daily posts. You may immediately note that I’m already a day late.

The taking of a personal inventory isn’t a bad exercise; we should all do it occasionally, though I have met few people who actually find success in having it tied to taking down the expired calendar and putting up the next one. I suspect there is both a positive and a negative side to the readiness to being anew. On one hand, it witnesses to the hope that things can, indeed, be better than they are and that we have both the ability and the responsibility to make it happen. That gives us purpose and significance, without which meaningful participation in life is unlikely to be found. On the other hand, it witnesses to our repeated failure to live up to the expectations we have of ourselves. In fact, maybe it is in the making of resolutions that we tacitly admit that it’s not just the expectations and demands of others that we fail to live up to, much as we try to blame failure on “them.” The fact is there is an internally functioning voice that we recognize all too well; and we know that it is right in calling us to task.

Be that as it may, what I want to focus on is the hope that drives us and sets us off in new directions, or in old directions with new energy. Or maybe on new routes to the same destination. It has been growing increasingly clear to me that what we hope for is not that God will do something to change things independently of human efforts, either our own or those of someone else. We have done that for far too long, I think–sit around under the idea that only God can change things, and that He will do it in such a way that no one on earth has a hand in it whatsoever. Meanwhile, we go about our lives and interests which have little to do with kingdom purposes.

My “resolution” (had to use it) is to more fully understand that God does in fact work in the world, but that His Holy Spirit (fully God!) dwells in his people, primarily in the body of Christ. If He does, then supposedly human actions of Spirit-filled people are not really that at all; they are God’s way of working. So join me, won’t you, in getting on board with what God IS DOING about the mess of a world we see around us.

And, by the way, you could all make it a resolution to respond to blog postings; it helps to create new posts when I know what you are thinking.