Standing and Resting in 2018
Sitting here in the coffee shop, I find myself pondering the New Year. ‘Tis the Season after all. This is when all the type A’ers set their goals for the coming year. It is also when the messy folk finally wash their hands of the previous year. But aren’t those categories a little too neat and tidy? After all, we’re all messy. We’re all a little thankful to say goodby to the failures of the previous year. And don’t we all like to look on the coming year with fresh, expectant eyes? Is this the way you look at the New Year? Or is it just me?
With those thoughts swirling in my mind, combined with the refreshment of a few days rest and reflection, I find myself enjoying a cup of coffee with my daughter, and contemplating the coming year. But this year, rather than setting specific, measurable goals (though I do have a few), I am more focused on my posture. No, I’m not referring to the way I physically sit or stand. I am more concerned with the posture of my heart.
RESTING IN MY WEAKNESS
Sitting here I realize how much effort I expend trying to orchestrate my time, my relationships, the church, etc. All of this managing, of myself and of my surroundings, makes an assumption. It assumes that I have the strength to do so. Maybe more than strength, it assumes I have the ability to control outcomes, and that those outcomes I control will result in the best outcomes. But time and time again, experience seems to suggest otherwise.
Experience tells me that rather than strength, what I really have to offer is weakness. That realization can be somewhat depressing. At this time of year when I am thinking in terms of New Year’s resolutions, the natural response would seem to be, “Do better next time!” But maybe experience is not the only voice worth listening to.
The Apostle Paul had a pretty good voice. His was authoritative. At least in terms of the Scriptures he authored, his voice was divinely inspired. So sitting here in the coffee shop, the Holy Spirit is directing me to the voice of God uttered by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
“But He (the Lord) said to me (Paul...and me), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul realized his inability and was reminded of the all sufficient grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. So he concluded to boast in his weakness. I’ll just be honest with you. I don’t know how to boast in my weakness. It’s just there. All around. So maybe rather than boasting in my weakness, this New Year’s I’ll resolve to rest in it. I’ll resolve to recognize I can’t manage my life, or yours. I’ll resolve to recognize my weakness, and to trust God’s Word when it tells me God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. So I’ll resolve to pray dependent-ly rather than demanding-ly. I resolve to adopt a posture of resting in the all too evident reality of my own weakness and inability.
STANDING IN AWE
I understand that a posture of resting in weakness can seem like a bit of a downer in terms of New Years resolutions, particularly if I simply stopped there. I guess there are two options in the face of weakness. We can wallow in it. Or we can turn our focus.
As I approach the New Year, the Lord seems to be the One redirecting my gaze. While He is calling me to rest in my weakness, He is also calling me to stand in AWE…of Him. So, sitting here in the coffee shop, my attention turns to the book of Hebrews, and to the glory of God.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. — Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:22-24, 28-29)
There it is. In God’s Word I find a sustaining picture of glory. In the midst of my weakness I find the picture of hope, of grace, of awe. I believe God is showing me this New Year that come what may, He’s got it. His grace is sufficient, so stand in awe…of Him.
EMBRACING THE CALL
I have no idea what is ahead this year. While there was a time when the thought of the unknown may have concerned me, something about this New Year is different. Maybe that difference is captured in one little word my daughter shares with me. Embrace. I think that word means “to take hold of”; “to own it.” (my definition)
This year, I resolve to embrace the call of God, to take hold of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to own the unavoidable reality of my personal weakness and in that place, to embrace the unchanging glory of God. So come what may, I resolve to rest in my weakness and I stand in awe of my great God and Father. How about you? This New Year, will you join me?