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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Idol of Change



Change is never easy.  The theme running through the daily office readings, today, reminded me of this.  As we settle into a new year, there is a distinct temptation to trade the idols of the old year for new and different ones—shinier, more glitter, I get it.  I’m relatively certain that no one actually thinks about it this way.  We think that we are choosing things that are better, healthier, simpler, etc.  We think we’re making the kinds of choices that will lead to rhythm and balance, often the kinds of choices that will bring success and gratification to ourselves and others.  We trade what we have for what we want, and sometimes that’s OK…  good, even.

But, if you’ve already blown your New Year’s resolutions, don’t dismay.  There is nothing that indicates we can only start again on January 1st.  In fact, it is much more likely that we must start again every single morning.  The first morning of ordinary days is an excellent time to accept this.  After all, most of our days are ordinary.

I’m not sure anyone has ever understood this as well as the people of Israel.  The people of God?  Well, they start over just about every time they turn around, or so it seems.  Interestingly, I want to be a part of that—a part of the people of God, that is.  I could do without the constant heartbreak and missing out on promises.  Herein lies the key:

“If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts…  commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only (I Samuel 7:3, NIV).

I feel as if this is one of those statements that we easily overlook.  If you’ve been identifying as part of the people of God for very long, this is a given.  Of course, we commit ourselves to the Lord.  Of course, we serve the Lord only.  Of course… of course… of course… 

Except, sometimes the things we take for granted lack the attention to detail that is so important.  Do my new goals look like the things that the Lord would ask me to do?  Are they redemptive in nature?  Do they demonstrate love at all costs?  I don’t want to project my own expectations in front of what is actually good and right.  And I readily admit, sometimes it’s hit and miss.  But catch this, because a concise statement can offer an awful lot of hope:

I Samuel 7:12, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (NIV).

Many years ago, I coined the phrase, “God has never failed us yet, and I don’t expect today to be the day he starts.”

Still true.

Now, to discern what the Lord might actually desire from me in the next hour or so… because that might be about all I can handle at a time…

Let’s start with this (throwing one in there that’s not from the daily office… gasp…)

Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy not sacrifice…” (NIV).

OK, then…

Psalm 29:11, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (NIV).

L.

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