"I do not understand my own actions.
For I do not do what I want,
but I do the very thing I hate."
One of the most common New Year's resolutions has to be to quit smoking. I smoked a pipe for decades and I can tell you that it is easy to quit - I did it many times! Yet, it does not count if it isn't sustainable. We call it simple "will-power" (brain elbow-grease?), but what we yearn for is "won't-power". I would fight the good fight with mental might, sternly chanting inside: DO NOT SMOKE. DO NOT SMOKE. DO NOT SMOKE. Yet, like a Gary Larson cartoon dog, what I heard was: Blah blah SMOKE. Blah blah SMOKE. Blah blah SMOKE. My most sincere efforts only made it worse by focusing my attention on the very thing that I was trying to put behind me.
The Ten Resolutions (The Thoushallnots) worked moderately well for a log long time, but the world didn't need a resolution, but a revolution. The Easter Revolution freed us from our internal dialogue of fear and negativity: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, BUT those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit" (verse 5). We expose and ditch our idols, and focus on something other and bigger than our cravings. We are free to choose what we will surrender to; what kind of master we want.
When we huddle in a corner in a fetal position we are closed to grace. We think we are the only ones to have experienced such a trial. We think that we are alone. And yet: "We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express" (verse 26). Such a hope filled sentence! We fear to fail because we fear to be judged, even though we were created both fallible and in God's image. How freeing to let Jesus wash our feet, to let someone else be God for a change. In sports, teams and people choke when they stop trying to win, and instead try not to lose. "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us" (verse 37).
What will your New Year's revolution be?
"So it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God who shows mercy."