The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.— John 3:8
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and — if you’re reading this after New Year’s Day — that you’re still keeping your resolutions.
For the past several years, my New Year’s Resolution has been to lose 20 lbs. Needless to say, I haven’t lost 60 or 80 or 100 lbs! In fact, I think this year my resolution should really be to lose 30 lbs!
As an accomplished non-keeper of resolutions, I believe that arbitrary starting dates like New Year’s Day are a way we avoid doing the thing we know we should do. Prior to the start date, we say “I’ll start doing that after New Year’s.” When the start date comes, we do whatever it is for a few days or weeks, but eventually our resolve fades and our resolution fails. But by then it’s February or mid-January, and New Year’s seems so long ago that whatever we’re trying to do will have to wait until the next arbitrary start date. (Lent, perhaps, or the swimsuit season, or after our summer vacation, or — better yet! — after New Year’s next year!)
The Psalmist knew better:
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness
Jesus described the movement of the Spirit as unpredictable, like the wind that blows where it chooses. When the Spirit urges us to do something, the correct response is not to say, “Okay, God, I’ll make it a priority after the next arbitrary start date.” Conversely, if you sense a leading to make a change in your life starting a month or a year from now, I’d be dubious that it was God’s prompting.
Our tendency is always to put things off until tomorrow. We figure that if something is really important, it will rise to the top of our to-do list without any help from us. If only that were the case! Time-management gurus like Stephen Covey say our lives can become so cluttered with urgent but unimportant matters that we never have a moment to look at the important things.
This year, one of the challenges I hope we address is evaluating our priorities as a church. I’d like to find ways we can do less of the urgent things that don’t matter all that much, so we can spend more time working on the important things that do matter.
I’d like to invite you to do the same kind of categorization in your own lives. I want you to have more free time, because I’d like you to volunteer some of it to help us do more of the important work of the church.
I’m talking about worship, fellowship, discipleship, and especially evangelism and mission. These are the things that make the church relevant in our community and our world. This is the work that Christ commands the church to be about.
Let’s be urgent this year about doing what’s important.