The baby was up all night. All four kids were sick. One of them in particular is worth at least six kids when she’s sick. I won’t mention any names, but she’s two, has blond hair, and handles feeling badly about as graciously as a cat getting their toenails clipped while being held under water. The car wouldn’t start when it was time for church. The dog chewed up at least ten things over night. New Year’s Day was…ummm. Great. Just really. Great. I did chuckle about it, a lot…because of course! Of course the old nasty Devil is going to come right out of the shoot with all sorts of dirty little tricks to immediately ruin our so called “fresh start”, “new page”, whatever you want to call it. As I sit listening to my little man laboriously breathing like a freight train, the oxygen consentrator humming, and sporting a nice smear of two year old throw up on my sleeve…I am struck by just how much of the old year is alive and well in the new year. It seems we still have the same exact troubles of stuff breaking, tempers shorting, life happening, sleep not happening, and people (possibly myself included) acting like much like folks with sinful natures do as we did in the last year.
So what gives? Not enough new year’s resolutions? Bad karma? I do believe the answer might rest in the tiny fact that the new year is actually just the old year under a new name in the same broken world with the same broken people. Rather than that being a dismal, “I’m stuck ” sort of fact, it is more of an invitation for my three friends, Remember, Caution, and Hope, to join me as the new year begins. Remember holds the past right at my side, not as a weapon, but as a guard of protection. Last year, this year, or next year, this girl will always need the loving hand of a forgiving God to keep her on track. Remember’s message to me is quite simple: Don’t forget. Don’t forget you fail. Don’t forget you don’t deserve anything, don’t forget you aren’t owed anything. Don’t forget you didn’t earn your Savior’s love, don’t forget you are not the keeper of your peace. Don’t forget. On Caution hangs the mirror in which I can see all my potential for future flops and failures. Caution is well acquainted with my deceitful heart. Caution has sounded its depths and found it to be capable of anything. Caution’s message is unrelenting and insistent. Listen to truth, keep to the road, stay in the Light. You’ve never traveled this way before, you need to look to Jesus. Hope sparkles and glitters with tempting opportunity, her message tumbles out in eager chatter. Stuck? Stuck?! Not you! Why, look at this job that needs doing, this attitude that needs shining, this home that needs brightening, that person who needs cheering, that habit that needs tweaking! Get to it, work hard, start here!
Start where? In my heart. I have to start here, in this private, cluttered, classified personnel only area of my being, because the heart is where my New Year’s resolutions actually turn from nice thoughts, into New Year’s convictions, that then result into New Year’s actions…which then turn into next year’s habits, and the next year’s character. Conviction is the root of any change I hope to see from year to year. Conviction digs deep, it finds truth, it nourishes the character. It is habits, it is thoughts, it is the repeated daily grind of duty, it is the unseen act done only for right’s sake and right’s notice. Conviction gets dressed and shows up when feelings are still snoozing in their cozy beds of excuses.
My little guy, Jed, because of his lack of kidney function, takes on average 18 different medications daily, more if he’s sick. Being the completely organized, never forgetful person that I am (insert copious amounts of sarcasm here), my husband had the wisdom to make a check off chart for me to keep track of what I’ve given him for the day. Suppose one day I toss the chart, and I explain very carefully to Jed that I just don’t feel like messing with his billion medications. I would like a week off from giving them. Suppose I ask him nicely to please keep his electrolytes under control himself and please no dramatics for the week. I assure you without the consistent .6ml of this and the .5ml of that, it’s all just going to be a fiasco. And to top it off, his doctor won’t even be the slightest bit sympathetic when I explain that he is only having seizures and his hemoglobin has bottomed out and his potassium is through the roof simply because I got bored with giving him all that dumb medicine. That doctor shouldn’t expect so much from me anyway! Of course that would be a ridiculously stupid and irresponsible thing to do. A little bit of good done here and there is all fine and nice, but that won’t keep him out of the hospital. A little bit of good done consistently will, and furthermore it may actually mean the difference between life and death.
So it is with this year too. Just a little bit of good, done every day, with the sort of conviction that removes options and excuses, will mean the difference between a wasted year and a year of growth. And at the end of the day, after I have done my best, even if my best means failing royally…my friend Hope has one more thing to say to me…“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lam 3:21-23)