Don’t resolve too hard

Happy New Year.

I’m not a big resolutions guy. Care giving calls forth plenty of failure, correction and change all year long, so the arbitrary flip of another calendar page doesn’t strike me as an emergency.

The other thing about resolutions is that they can get us so focused on some arbitrarily selected effort, often suggested by cultural pressure or vague inner shame, that we beat ourselves up emotionally. As if we didn’t have a surplus of that layin’ around.

The challenges and opportunities for growth will be around all year long. They won’t ask us for a date on December 31st. So we need to be in a strong place when they show up. And we do that, not by resolving to “be in a strong place,” but by accepting the help that can keep us there.

That help is called “grace,” which comes as a gift,

Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and
undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens
our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.
(Book of Common Prayer 1979)

Can it really be that simple? No, it is elusive. But we receive the gift by taking the risk to trust that it is really there, right with us, all the time.

A man named Lawrence, who spent a good part of his life cleaning the pots and pans for the people with whom he lived, put it this way,

“Blind as we are, we hinder GOD, and stop the current of His graces. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His graces and favors plentifully: there they flow like a torrent, which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance.”

I pray that 2014 – and every moment of your life – will be a discovery of grace. May your life be filled more and more with the patient, passionate and powerful love that God devotes to you.

But he said to 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. (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)

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