Tag Archives: relationship with God

More than another whack at it

by Barry Newton

Someone somewhere must have completed a study revealing the level of success people achieve with New Year’s Resolutions. My guess is a chart graphing the success would be discouraging.

Would it not reveal a robust beginning waning into a downward slope with only a handful of uncommon resolute individuals plodding along twelve months later? Maybe I am underestimating my fellow Americans. However, if health club memberships are any indication of general success, I think I’m right.

So if we live in a world where evil forces desire to destroy each of us and they have already successfully defeated us in round one, how would you like the slate wiped clean to take another whack at living perfectly for the rest of your life? I don’t find this prospect too encouraging. That’s why I’m not in favor of calling the gospel a second chance.

If this second chance is simply another shot at the road we have already travelled, sin will win again. That’s not good news.

However, the gospel is not just getting a redo, so that we launch off with a renewed spiritual resolution to do better this time. The good news of the gospel is that the cross provides a completely new path, a new basis for a relationship with God.

This new way is built upon the person of Christ who has already gone the entire distance. What he achieved can not be undone. In God’s mercy, God promises, through Christ crucified for you, a successful and enduring relationship with himself.

Taking a road not dependent upon ourselves and that successfully goes the distance would be a great way to start a new year. If someone was not already in Christ, a New Year’s resolution to take a whole new approach to living before God, a life built on Christ, would be a winning way to start the year.

Cling to God

“Problems should make us run to God, not run from him.”

So I wrote to Darrin a few days ago. His wife has cancer. His mother-in-law, not the meekest of people, has been living with them for months, to lend a hand. His life is topsy-turvy.

And he’s quit meeting with the saints. He says he needs some time to think.

So I told him this was time to cling to God.

In a symbolic act, the Lord told the prophet Jeremiah to buy a new linen loincloth and wrap it around his waist (Jeremiah 13). Scholars are not sure if this was a linen belt or waist cloth. In any case, it was a piece of garment placed closely about the body.

Then he was to take it far away to the Euphrates and hide it in the cleft of a rock.

After many days, the Lord told him to go back and get it. When Jeremiah dug it up, it was ruined. Good for nothing.

The lesson: “Even so I will spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem” (verse 9).

And then the clincher: “For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen” (verse 11).

Just as Jeremiah’s loincloth found its use in clinging to the body, so God’s people are useful to him when they cling closely to him. To cling to God means to live intimately in his presence and participate in his character and purpose.

Contact and intermingling with the world spoils his people so that they become useless to God.

Whether it be carnal temptations or painful adversity, every experience should lead us to cling more closely to the Lord, rather than distance ourselves from him.

That’s what I wanted Darrin to understand. And what I need to remember as well.

After all, that’s what we were made for!

The flowers of spring may wither, the hope of summer fade,
The autumn droop in winter, the birds forsake the shade;
The winds be lulled, the sun and moon forget their old decree;
But we, in nature’s latest hour, O Lord, will cling to Thee!
–Reginald Heber, “When Spring Unlocks the Flowers”

Every experience should lead us to cling more closely to the Lord, rather than distance ourselves from him.