What a difference we hope one evening will make! December 31 is here. The ball drops at midnight. Toasts are made as we look back on the year that has passed, looking forward to the year to come. A new year begins, complete with new possibilities, new opportunities, new dreams, and a new hope for a new ME – hence the New Year’s resolution. Unfortunately, more years than not, before too long we realize it’s a new year, but the same old me.
Resolutions are usually made with the best of intentions, but most times made without considering how unrealistic and undisciplined we human beings really can be. We set ourselves up to have to cope with guilt and failure when we discover that our momentum has waned (usually by mid to late January). Some of the most common resolutions made each year include losing weight, exercising & eating healthy, getting out of debt, getting a better job, reducing stress, learning something new, or taking on a new hobby. Some may resolve to spending more time with their family, spending more time with God, volunteering more, or educating yourself more. We begin January 1 with a bang, but as time passes those very things we thought were important enough to pursue seem to fall by the wayside. Old habits die hard!
I’ve been doing some thinking myself about what my New Year’s resolution might be for 2011. The thought struck me, “we’re just livin’ to die”. But what does that really mean? I guess you could say that some people live their days going about their business. They may be happy, but do they experience true joy that life can bring? It’s difficult to be joyful sometimes, especially if the past year has been a rough one. Maybe in 2010 you lost a loved one – maybe you lost a job – maybe you discovered your own health was failing. Those are not “joyful” times – those are hard times. You’re just barely getting by, or just stuck in the same old routines.
There’s a flipside to that coin. My mind is drawn to a country song by Tim McGraw entitled, “Live Like You Were Dyin”. A man in his early forties has discovered a serious health issue. One, we are led to believe, that has not given him much time to live. The man is asked the question, “How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news. What do you do?” The man’s response was clear. He did the things he always wanted to do, but never took the time. He took some risks. He went sky-diving. He climbed the Rocky Mountains. He went bull-riding. But not all of his choices were physically challenging. No, some of his choices were those of the heart. He loved deeper, he spoke sweeter, and he gave forgiveness to those he had been denying forgiveness. He made a point to be a better husband, a better friend, he read the Bible more, and all of a sudden the simple things he didn’t want to be bothered with at one time, were the very things he came to enjoy about life. His perspective changed when he realized he was not guaranteed tomorrow.
Living to die means so much more than just putting in your time here on earth. Like the lyrics of this song that go on to question - if we have the gift of tomorrow and an eternity to think about what we would do with it, then what would we do with it? What CAN we do with it? I believe that God desires for us to live life to the fullest, to realize our hopes and dreams and to go after them, to slow down and enjoy what He has created and the blessings that He has given, to make a difference in the lives of others. But before we can truly live to die, we must first die to live.
Have you ever thought about dying to live? There is death that brings life. There is a dying that brings fulfillment and blessing. God longs for us to enjoy an abundant life filled with true joy and it’s available to us now. But to die right now? What does that mean? Colossians 3:1-10 tells us to put ourselves to death – not our physical bodies, but the evil ways and habits we have been accustomed to - such as greed, immorality, improper attitudes, the evil desires of the flesh, and anger, just to name a few. It means dying to self, putting yourself aside for the benefit of others, dying so you may gain life - life more abundant! New life is found when we give ourselves over to the living Christ and allow him to hide us in Himself. Taking off the old and putting on the new – isn’t that really what New Year’s resolutions are all about? No longer the same old me!
My New Year’s Resolution? - Live to die and die to live.
Living to die – TRULY living – is wonderful, but dying to live is freedom!