The Change New Years Doesn’t Offer

Faith / Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

I don’t know about you, but New Years is my JAM. Being a goal-oriented, list-loving, dreamer the weeks surrounding January 1st can feel straight-up intoxicating. There’s just so much hope and promise flying around!

Naturally, I take full advantage of this season to dream and scheme and make lists of all the things I hope to be and do in 2019.

If you made a list, I imagine yours might look a lot like mine:

  • I want to be on my phone less.
  • I want to be more present with my kids.
  • I want to be more connected to my husband.
  • I want to be a better friend, to show up for them more often.
  • I want to eat better and exercise at some point.
  • I want to be consistent and intentional with my dreams and passions (namely, writing).

All of these things are good and lovely! But the moment I sat back and reviewed them, I felt a strange mix of frustration and hopelessness.

Resolve, Fail, Repeat

The truth is, this is the same list I have been writing for the past several years. Each year I recommit to making the same “better choices” and to focus on the same “better behaviors”; but despite my efforts, I see little change.

In my frustration, I’ve wondered, “Where is this abundant life Christ promises us in John 10:10?”. Why, as a mature Christian woman, am I still struggling with persistent worry, outbursts of anger, and a rampant phone addiction?

It’s clear, I need more than mere behavior modification. I need a heart transformation. 

Despite being saved, there are areas of my heart that are strongholds for sin. And no amount of human resolve can change what is so deeply rooted in my heart. That is the kind of change I long for!

I want the same vibrant connection to Christ I read about in the Bible! I long for a heart that beats solely for Him. For a soul so consumed by His love not even a tsunami of grief could destroy it, much less a whiny toddler. I want to feel His presence not just in the midst of a women’s retreat, but at Target, at the bank, and in my own kitchen!

I want a heart like His, a heart faithful to His.

Believing It Is Possible

When I read through the New Testament, I see a world-changing faith I have never experienced. In those moments, I find myself feeling more hopeless than inspired. I don’t see much of that kind of faith around me today, do you?

If I’m honest, a part of me wonders if I was never meant to experience the Holy Spirit as the Early Church did. Perhaps, that’s something reserved for the lucky few.

And yet, I long for it. And, that longing, that stirring of the Holy Spirit within me, makes me believe that it is possible to live as the apostles did in those early days. Scripture tells us, again and again, a deep connection to Christ is not reserved for the lucky few. It is a gift freely given to anyone who would ask for it and live by it (Matt 7:7Jer 29:13).

Possessing the Land

In his book, Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard makes this case:

“In the beginning of the conquest of the Promised Land, the walls of Jericho fell down to make clear God’s presence and power. but that never happened again. The Israelites had to take the remaining cities through hand-to-hand warfare, though always with divine assistance. What was then true of the Promised Land of the Israelites is true of individual human beings who come to God.” (p 32)

Upon salvation, our walls of self-protection came tumbling down and Christ invaded our hearts. But there is still work to be done, land to be conquered, if we are to have a heart like his. What an incredible picture of the delicate dance between our efforts and God’s grace (Phil 2:12-13)!

Taking His Hand

So here we stand in the field of our hearts, face to face with Christ; His hand extended to us in invitation. It’s an invitation to grab a shovel and get to work. To dig up lies and wrong thinking. To take His words, agree that they are good, and then fold them gently into the soil of our heart. It is an invitation to sow, to water, and to watch.

“That’s a lovely analogy,” you might be thinking. “But what does ‘doing the work’ look like in real life?”  Well, that’s what I’ll be spending the next year working out alongside you. I can tell you one thing, and I want us to cling to this: if we take one step, Christ’s grace will carry us a mile. The reason His burden is light and His yoke easy is because it is His strength, not ours, that bears the load (Matt 11:29-30). 

So, are you with me? Let’s do this together, friend! If we dare cultivate a faithful heart amid this frenzied world I am certain by next January we will have experienced real change. Not because we resolved to, but because we committed ourselves to Christ and He gave Himself to us, completely.

Let’s Do This!

Are you ready to get started? Kick this year off right by committing your mind, heart, soul, strength, and community to God! Use the form below to subscribe and you’ll receive “Wholly Devoted” a six-day prayer guide. You will also receive a monthly study to help you cultivate the various aspects of a faithful heart in 2019.

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5 Replies to “The Change New Years Doesn’t Offer”

  1. I love that Dallas Willard quote. I’ve never considered that with Jericho and the conquering of the Promised Land. I absolutely adore studying the OT and I so appreciate seeing this truth. What a great year ahead, Mary Kathryn. I’ve no doubt that God will chisel and work and reshape hearts to become like his.

    1. I love knowing that quote resonated with you. It was one that I immediately underlined, circled, and copied to Evernote. I, too, am a big fan of the OT and I *love* when there is an instance of tangible application to our every day lives! Thank you so much for those words of encouragement, I pray it is so!!

  2. P.S. Just read your about page and see that you’re in East Texas. My oldest and his little family just moved to San Antonio and we are driving some things out to him in a few months. I’ll probably be passing in or near you! Have to say, I can see why people love Texas!

    1. Ohhh, he is going to love San Antonio! Some of my best friends are there and it is just south of Austin, where I grew up! I’m about five hours north-east of that area, but if you drive through Shreveport, LA or Longview, TX you’ll be in my neighborhood! And yes, Texas certainly has a way of growing on people. I hope your son’s family feels at home in their new town!

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