“Mom! Mom! Can I have quiet time now?”
I’m startled awake and open my eyes to see my six-year-old about two inches from my face, yell-whispering his eager pleas to get up. I glance over at the clock… 7:44. Oh man… I missed it again.“
It” being that calm, early morning stillness before the bustle and enthusiasm of little people fills the house, and it’s time to invite them to join me for “quiet” time in the living room. “So much for my resolutions.”
I knew that, as much as I could blame my circumstances, it was mostly because of my lack of self-control that I had missed that time with the Lord to soak in His truth and prepare for the new day. Yes, the baby had had a screaming fit at midnight due to teething… but I also should’ve been asleep by then (which I definitely wasn’t). I just couldn’t let go of that late night alone time even though I had had nothing all that important to tend to. It was ultimately my choice not to stick to my goal that threw me off.
If I could hazard a guess, I’m probably not the only one who is feeling the slow crumbling of New Year resolutions about this time. I feel my own inability and weakness to make good and necessary changes, especially as a mom with young children when it’s difficult to stick to anything with consistency. Naturally, this is the time when I would want to throw in the towel, making myself feel better with the excuse that this is just not the time of life to make resolutions (which may in some cases be valid… but that’s for another day). I would want to wait for the next big milestone to start again – maybe the beginning of a new week, or a new month or quarter, or my next birthday, or something like that. But for those things that are good and right to pursue and that promote godly discipline and spiritual growth (such as healthy sleep patterns), there is no better time to begin pursuing them again than right now.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says,
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.”
God doesn’t need a new year, a new week, or a new milestone to help us get back up and continue to sanctify us by His grace. His indwelling Spirit never runs dry, and never takes a break from being our Helper to live in a manner that glorifies Christ and transforms us more and more into His image. It’s all too easy to forget that we are not called to change in our own strength, and that it’s not even possible… not at a heart-level. Oh, sure, we might learn some tips from self-help gurus that modify our behavior and increase our quality of life. But none of that will have eternal value in and of itself.
Sometimes I forget the real reason I’m even making a “resolution” in the first place. Sometimes I choose to make changes simply for my own convenience or to make myself feel better about my ability to be disciplined and “on top of things.” But the driving force behind any change should be to glorify God and live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel I proclaim as His redeemed child.
Now, modifying sleep habits may not seem as significant as something like overcoming a blatant sin issue. But the reality is, those things can be a weight that we’re supposed to lay aside along with the sin that entangles us (Heb 12:1). Anything that I’m doing (or not doing) that is hindering me from accomplishing what God has put before me with excellence can be changed in me by His grace. This isn’t legalism. It’s a life of joyful, reckless abandon to the One who is eternally worthy. I have one life… and I want to be able to say with Paul that I have obeyed “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).
We’ll never “arrive” this side of heaven. And no amount of resolutions will turn us into the people we are supposed to be. Only Jesus can do that. Day after day as we seek to bring glory to Him in the small and big things of life, He’ll produce the lasting fruit. So let’s not try to muscle our way to keeping those disciplines. When we fail, let’s remember that His grace is sufficient and His mercies are new. And let’s surrender afresh to His work, allowing the change to be of Him and for Him.