Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Relentless Resolutions

relentless /ri léntləss/ adj. 1. ceaseless and intense: never slackening, but continuing always at the same intense, demanding, or punishing level.

I read about Paul and his writings and I think of this word—relentless. Dogged determination. Persistent. Tenacious. Passionate. Single-minded devotion. These are the words that come to mind when I read about Paul’s consuming desire to know Jesus and be like Him.

I hear it in Paul’s words to the Philippians in 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I have not obtained. I press on. I strain forward. I picture Paul like an Olympic athlete who is pushing herself to win the gold. And the gold for Paul is a relationship with Jesus Christ and all that comes with it.

I wonder what motivated him to be relentless? What was it that made him an addict for Jesus Christ? Why couldn’t he settle? Most of us would love half of his spiritual devotion. Was he a perfectionist? What made Him this way?

I believe it is two things. First, I think he couldn’t get enough of Jesus. He sees Jesus as the most beautiful Being in the universe, and he is helplessly in love. Second, I think Jesus has made him this way. I think the Holy Spirit is enabling him to see Jesus’ beauty and is pushing him closer and closer to Jesus.

I read about Paul’s relentlessness and I find it contagious. I want it. I want to see what He sees and I want, no I need, that same drive to go hard after Jesus. I want to press on. I want to strain forward. I want to live out Paul’s words. I want more of Jesus in my life.

This is why I love New Year’s resolutions. It gives me another opportunity to have new goals that will push me harder. It reminds me to be relentless. It helps me to take stock of my life so that I can lay aside every weight and sin, which clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set before me. Resolutions motivate me to see how I can focus more on Jesus and fulfill His calling in my life.

This year I have three resolutions. Three ways that I am going to press on and draw closer to the love of my life, Jesus. Three ways that I believe will help me say like Jesus, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). These goals are not physical or financial but are spiritual character goals. They are not about doing but about being. They are resolutions that I believe can help me be more like Jesus.

My first resolution is to grow in humility. I am guessing that some people might read this the wrong way. I do not think I am filled with pride and I am seeking some way to be humbled. I don’t think I am, but maybe God is nudging me to see my blind spot. I don’t know. I do know this though, humility is not the quality people think it is. Most people link it with penitence or even how one relates to others. Yet, Andrew Murray, in his book entitled Humility, defines it as “the place of entire dependence on God.” When I think of humility, I think of Moses, who was said to be the most humble man on the earth (Numbers 12:3). More importantly, I think of humility and I am reminded when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The text that is often quoted to describe this is Zechariah 9:9, where the rider of the donkey is said to be humble. Jesus was humble when He rode into Jerusalem. Jesus was humble when everyone wanted to make Him king. He was humble because He was riding into Jerusalem fully prepared to fulfill God’s plan. I too want God to take over every inch of my being and declare it His. I want to be like Jesus and be humble.

I also want to be someone who grows in encouragement. I want to be someone who can encourage others to go hard after God. I do not want to go at it alone. I want others around me. I want others leading me. I want to be able to encourage them to be all that God wants them to be. I want to be like Joseph, a native of Cyprus, who was such an encourager that the apostles renamed him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement “(Acts 4:36). I don’t know if I will be such that others will rename me, but I want to encourage others.

Finally, I want to grow deeper in my prayer life. This year I want to focus on praying through the Psalms. For thousands of years, Christians have used the Psalms as the guide and textbook for prayer. The Psalms are people’s prayer responses to what God has done in their lives. I believe God has surprising things to teach me this year about Himself and myself. I believe I will find some of those answers as I listen to Him in the Psalms.

I hope these resolutions will make me relentless. I desire to do them not so that I can be a better man, although I pray that God would work that in me. No, I desire to be more like Jesus. I hope these resolutions will ultimately work their way out in my life so that people see less of me and more of Jesus. I am going to forget what lies behind and strain forward towards Jesus.

2011, here I come!

Photo by Dave Gilbert

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