God is a God of new beginnings and fresh starts! I always love the beginning of a new year because it gives me a chance to evaluate my life and decide on areas I need a fresh start. For instance, I have definitely decided I need to impliment a better system of chores for our kids! I have been pretty lax and often end up doing things myself because it's easier in the end than keeping after them. However, I was reminded that this is really not what's best for them, so we are going to start fresh with the new year with some consistent job assignments. I wish I could report that my children had feelings of excited anticipation over this new year's resolution, but as you might imagine there are more sighs and groans than singing and grins! :)
I recently had someone tell me they don't bother with "new year's resolutions" because it's a set-up for failure. Well, I can see how this can be true, but what about the feeling of a fresh start? I think we ARE destined for failure at many of the tasks we set forth to accomplish because, as Jesus reminds us, "apart from me you can do nothing." We strive, try HARDER still, beat ourselves up and ultimately fall to defeat and in some cases depression...all because we are striving in our own power to do things we clearly need the Spirit to do through us. To love more, be more patient with a family member or spouse, to be generous and consistently (and genuinely) kind. These are just a few things maybe you would consider putting on your list of new year's resolutions. But what exactly does Galations 5:22 mean when it says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..."? Does that mean that I need to produce joy an peace - and if I just tried harder to be patient and self-controlled, I would be living according to the Spirit? That's totally backwards! I think Jesus clears things up when He spoke about the grapevine in John 15:
v.4 - "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (v.5) Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
So, no more striving this year friends! Simply remain in Him. How? Make time to be with Him - abide. I like to go for a hike and be outdoors to be with Him. Sometimes I like to sit in the sunshine and just listen to worship music to be with Him. I get together with friends and pray and discuss scripture to be with Him. I like to journal and write to be with Him. Whatever it is that feeds and nourishes your soul as you spend time with your Creator, DO IT! And as we abide, as we walk with Him, the Spirit bears fruit - love, joy, peace, etc., through us - no striving.