"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13. "Kiss the past goodbye!" "All things are possible if you only believe." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.
As I contemplate a New Year, I thought about what this means; a new outlook, new goals, the opportunity to build on strengths and to take the lessons learned from the past forward and to garner the fortitude to leave the rest behind. It's a normal response to want to accomplish what was left undone or half done the previous year. Innately, we all want to be better and/or to do better. Recently, I heard a famous televangelist deliver a sermon entitled, "Kiss the Past Goodbye." I was very intrigued. He described how old baggage could impede our growth and endanger future progress. I was "Amening" throughout the whole sermon. I kept thinking how wonderful his words of wisdom were. Then it hit me; this is not new. I could have written this sermon myself. You probably could too. However, as mere mortals the act of letting go of the pain, hurt, disappointment and heartache of the past is easier said than done. But, move on we must. Getting stuck is not an option.
It comes down to this; what will we choose? Believe it or not, it is always a matter of choice. You have heard this a thousand times; it is still true, we can choose. e.g., When I choose to stay in bed and watch TV all day and not to devote any time to my transition career (writing), that is my choice. I should not be alarmed if I do not put out another novel in a timely fashion. Equally, when I choose to eat food that is sure to add to my girth and the numbers go up on the scale; it is not a surprise or a defective scale, it is my choice. Of course, I know better, but I sometimes choose selective denial (you understand).
Why is it so difficult to choose what we know to be best for us? Let's explore this a little bit. I was speaking to a friend. Actually, I was looking over her shoulder as she was reading an article about ways to eat healthy in the New Year. We both chuckled. Why? Well, once again, we could have written the article. My friend is a nurse by profession. She told me that the more she counsels people on healthy eating, the fatter she gets. Knowing better does not guarantee doing better. Amen! If I only had a dime for every time I........ You fill in the blank. We know better, we should do better. How many of us can say that we have?
I have, however, given this some further thought. In my opinion, at the root of the matter is whether we believe we can do whatever it is we say we want or need to do. Macy's has a slogan: "Believe." I think what they mean by this is to be open to the possibilities that life presents. This is a good place to start, but life is broader and deeper than that. It's beyond marveling at the wonder of life or believing in "magic." (Magic being defined as something wonderful or exciting, not sleight of hand). Notwithstanding those moments in our lives when things happen so seamlessly (as if by magic), on time, beneficial, fun, rewarding, and uplifting, etc., etc. We may not think about or appreciate such bountifulness at that moment, but at the core is the catalyst; our capacity/need to believe; (to accept and expect) to believe that these things can happen. Believe is defined as to have faith or confidence in the existence or worth of. If you cannot accept that something is possible, then you will undermine it if it does happen.
"And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him." Hebrews 6:11. This confirms that we must first believe. How will you benefit from God's love, power, protection, provision, etc., if deep down you do not believe He is real. Think about it. A lot is predicated on this. Many people coping with addiction can write or dictate a manual about overcoming addiction. So, why are they still in the throes of addiction? I am not an expert, but I would proffer the following: There is something that (initially) feels good (enticing) about one's drug of choice; and maybe they want to quit because we all know that addiction is not socially acceptable, but deep down they don't believe that they can and so they don't sincerely try or they make an attempt and drop their efforts when it gets too hard.
Before you turn your nose up at those struggling, remember that the best of us can feel defeated. Remember Elijah, the prophet? He was so afraid of Jezebel, that he caved in to fear, lost all hope and asked God to take his life. "And he asked that he might die, saying. "It is enough now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." 1 Kings 19:4. What happened to him? Did he forget that God was greater that Jezebel? Well, what happened to him is what is real for all of us. We are human; and in times of difficulty, we (sometimes) forget where help comes from. We can even lose our motivation to even reach out for help. There is hope.
Back to our plans for the New Year. We have the experience of knowing what worked last year and what did not. If you are pleased with that, then no need to read further. But, if you are like the rest of us, you may want to do a little tweaking to your goals and some firming up of your resolve to live your blessed/best life in 2020. Take a read: An old proverbs says: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." You have been walking for a "minute" (current slang for a long time) now, you should be nearing your chosen destination. If the endgame is not in sight yet, perhaps you do not have one or you forgot what it was. Get back in the game!
1. Believe. All things are possible if you only believe, and the opposite can happen if you don't! Not to be pollyanna, but what have you set your mind to accomplish; put in the time, energy and effort to achieve and it did not come to fruition? I am willing to wager that for every time you gave it your all and really believed that you could be successful, you met with success more times than not. Of course, some things are lofty and not easily grasped, but that does not mean it is not doable, and we should not stop trying. Likewise, what bad habit, addiction, etc., have you been earnestly trying to rid yourself of that you cannot seem to shake? (Only you know if you really want to let go). For those who are really serious about getting better, superhuman strength may be what is needed and which we (individually/collectively) cannot lay claim to. However, this strength is nearer than we know. (Remember young David slew the giant Goliath; not by his might). Pray about it, believe, and then put it under the authority of the One who possesses such strength and who knows what we need and desire. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13.
2. Remember the Endgame (ultimate agenda or desired outcome): "But, I have this against you, you abandoned the love you had at first." Revelation 2:4. One morning at the gym, I was speaking in passing to a previous personal trainer. I commented that he was looking particularly buff (I was not flirting! As if!!!). I mean he was "swole." Let me break that down a little bit; he looked pumped. HIs chest and shoulders resembled that of a young body builder on the lines of "Arnold Schwarzenegger." He responded so enthusiastically that it took me by surprise. It was like he was waiting for someone to notice. I inquired further. He told me that he had targeted specific areas of his body to build muscle mass, and he showed me his monthly fitness calendar all typed up complete with six days per week with at least one and one half hours allotted each day with designated exercises, that he was following fastidiously. Wow! I exclaimed. And then I asked, "how did you get so motivated?" (Just looking at the calendar was exhausting). You see, lately I have been struggling with motivation. I have not been putting the same amount of time in at the gym since one of my favorite instructors there left and relocated to Florida. The trainer told me that he likes the way he looks and feels after he has finished his program, and further, he said, "if you really want something, you get up and just do it." How simple and yet profound. I knew this. But, hearing it out loud crystalized for me that I had forgotten the reason I had joined the gym in the first place. It was not for the exercise instructor who left or for the trainers that remain. It was because I needed to get my weight under control to impact my overall health. What a salient reminder of my endgame. I have recommitted. Try to do the same where it applies.
3. Don't be a fatalist. Maybe your life is not perfect; perhaps all your choices have not been spot on. So What!! Welcome to the real world. If you are reading this post, guess what? God woke you up this morning and He has given you another chance. In the scripture noted above, the Apostle Paul is telling us that he has not arrived, but he is not letting that prevent him from moving on. He is putting the past behind him and looking forward to what's to come. Let me inform you of the truth; none of us will ever get everything completely right; get over it. But, what we can do is our best, and we can keep striving. Life did not work out the way you planned? Again, welcome to the club. Make a new plan!! It is up to you. I am not making light of anyone's situation, I have certainly had my share of disappointments. But, I have learned that precious time is wasted lamenting what has already happened and that which cannot be changed. We have two choices: "Give Up or Step Up." I choose "step up." By stepping up, we demonstrate that we trust God to be in charge of the outcome. We honor Him by accepting that He has a plan for our lives. If we just keep living, we will see His plan unfold. "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9.
The desired end result should be your motivation for the goals you choose this year. Lest you forget, write them down and post them where they are visible and can be seen throughout the day. Remember, if it is worth having, it is worth working for. Don't worry about whether you will achieve the endgame; get started and stay on the journey!
Here's wishing you steadfastness, accomplished goals and the realization of abundant life! Thank you for your support in 2019. Please know that I remain truly appreciative. God bless you in 2020 and always.
For comments, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org