If you are like most people, you have already begun working toward fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions. Most of our resolutions lead us toward being a better person this year than last. I would like to share a little bit of my background hoping that it will help you achieve your personal goals.
From the age of eighteen until I was twenty-four, I made a mess of my life. If there was a bad decision to be made, I would choose it every time. I had been raised in church, became a Christian at age nine, tried to be a leader in the youth group, and was growing in my knowledge of Scripture and the Christian life. However, just after graduation, I started making foolish choices. Eventually, I found myself so far away from God that I couldn’t find my way back.
In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15.11-32), Jesus makes it clear that all we have to do is show our repentance, that is turn away from sin, by returning to God. He is always ready to restore us to a right relationship with Him, continue our Christ-like development, and use us for His glory. It is that simple.
I was too smart for all that. I knew I had been too wicked for God’s grace, and therefore, couldn’t accept God’s forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace. I couldn’t accept God’s gifts because I couldn’t forgive myself. I was beating myself up for my own sinful behaviors. I couldn’t hear what the Bible was saying about God because I was too busy trying to fix myself. Needless to say, I was miserable! No matter how frustrated I was with my backslidden life or how determined I was to make myself live the Christian life I continued down the wrong path. I was convinced that I was a hopeless case. I didn’t know it, but that was right where God wanted me—consciously aware of my inability to change on my own.
I realized that relief wasn’t going to come by my ability to control myself. In my own flesh I was always going to make the wrong decision. My frustration was caused by trying to live up to the standards I thought was expected of Christians. However, in confessing my inadequacy to live out the Christian life on my own, God was then able to live through me. The only way I was going to be truly restored was to come to God broken and contrite. It was then that I was showered in God’s grace and restored into a right relationship with Him. Immediately, I realized I could never let guilt hold me back from enjoying my relationship with God.
Now when I fall short of God’s plan, I am quick to run to the throne of grace, admit my failure, thank God for His forgiveness, and joyfully move on with my life all the wiser. If guilt has driven a wedge between you and God, it is time to run to God, confess your sin and guilt, then enjoy His forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love. Trust me, as someone who has been there, living a life resting in what Jesus has done brings about your best life now!