God is Always Holding On
As we head into the New Year, here is the January 1st entry from my devotional, “It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News.”
If we are faithless, he remains faithful… (2 Timothy 2:13)
In 1738, literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote in his diary: “O Lord, enable me … to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” Nineteen years later, he wrote, “Almighty God, enable me to shake off sloth, and to redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin, by a diligent application of the days yet remaining.” Every few years thereafter, he wrote some variation of this prayer, finally culminating in 1775, when he wrote, “When I look back upon resolutions of improvement and amendment, which have year after year been made and broken, … why do I yet try to resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary, and despair is criminal.”
Johnson is describing all human life.
We start every new year thinking, This is the year! We resolve to turn over a new leaf— and this time we’re serious. We promise ourselves that we’re going to quit bad habits and start good ones. We’re going to get in shape, eat better, waste less time, and be more content, disciplined, and intentional. We’re going to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. We’re going to pray more, serve more, plan more, give more, read more, and memorize more Bible verses. We’re going to finally be all that we can be. No more messing around.
And then, twelve months later, we realize we’ve fallen short—again.
What I’m most deeply grateful for is that God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve but on Jesus’s resolve for us. The gospel is the good news announcing Jesus’s infallible devotion to us despite our inconsistent devotion to Him. The gospel is not a command to hang on to Jesus; it’s a promise that no matter how weak and unsuccessful our faith and efforts may be, God is always holding on to us.
As this new year gets underway, take comfort knowing that we are weak and He is strong— that even as our love for Jesus falls short, Jesus’s love for us is eternal.
Happy New Year!