Sunday, May 07, 2006

Renovation

January is routinely resolution month with many of us making the same resolutions we made last January and gave up on in February. Let's face it, if we were going to exercise more, do we really need to make that decision in January? And if we do, what does that say about our earnestness in making that decision?

What kinds of resolutions have you made in the past? Have they had to do with you - eating better, exercising more, reading better books? Most resolutions I suspect are usually me-centered. After all, there's little to no accountability with those. What's wrong with a banana split for breakfast every now and then anyway? While there's nothing wrong with resolutions that deal more with me, how much better would be resolutions that improve the way we interact with people. Resolutions that have to do with learning to be, and trying to be better parents, better spouses, better Christians seem to be higher resolutions because they are focused on becoming the kinds of people we know we should be - the kinds of people God calls us to be.

Perhaps all this resolution talk is much ado about nothing. Maybe the energy we use in deciding on the resolution is all the energy we will ever put into it. Or perhaps, maybe the whole resolution cycle simply serves to soothe our psyches - let's us believe that we are making an effort.

This year, pick one thing to resolve. I recommend something like "to become more like Jesus every day." Or perhaps, "to yield myself, my money, and my time to do whatever God reveals to me." Making a resolution to take Me out of the center of my life, and let God really show me who I am to be could be the best resolution I could make. Not very flashy. Doesn't need a new $100 gym outfit. But it would be the most far-reaching and satisfying resolution available.

Resolution making and renovation seem to go hand in hand. Max Lucado compares God to someone who redecorates and renovates a house to make it better than it was. To fix up the sagging roof, clean off the walls, and repair the foundation. Our job is to yield ourselves to God so that He can work His renovation in our lives. Keeping this resolution won't be any easier than the others. In fact, it might be harder because it will require us to surrender ourselves, our rights, our freedom to God and to other people. But the results will be far better than flatter abs.

Well, the results will be better, but we might not recognize it for that at first glance. The following is a prayer written by a World War II concentration camp resident and illustrates the kind of personal, spiritual renovation God wants to work in our lives.

O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not only remember the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we bought, thanks to this suffering: our comradship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.*

Do you see the grace in that prayer? Instead of calling for brimstone on the heads of his tormentors, this God follower seeks to bless them. Amazing, isn't it? Why is it that some humans are capable of such open-hearted humility and the rest of us don't seem to be? This kind of renovation of our hearts and resolutions to live by it are not easy and chafe against our pride, our sense of fairness.

What might happen in your life, in your marriage, in your family if you could extend this kind of grace to your spouse or your kids? How much are you willing to let God renovate your heart, right now, today, to get you to such a place?

It will hurt. Pruning and renovating always does. But what satisfaction you could have when your relationships reflect the character, the humility, the tenderness that God seeks for them. Seemingly overnight, although it will take longer, the slights you used to perceive from your family members will disappear and you will become more giving, more forgiving. And you will look like God.

So what do you say? Want to make a resolution?

Have a great New Year! Now, where are my tennis shoes?

*From Rob Goldman, "Healing the World by Our Wounds, The Other Side 27, No. 6:24, in Richard Foster, Prayer Treasury, 1992, HarperCollins.

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