By Bill Webb
Beginnings can feel good, especially if they are self-initiated. A lot of people are engaged in new beginnings as they ponder New Year's resolutions. Resolutions are helpful for a lot of people who are able to identify one or more areas of self-improvement and diligently accomplish their goal(s). But some of us discover that making resolutions is a good way to spoil an otherwise good start to a new year. Our efforts result in another layer of guilt.
Some positive thinkers would have us believe that a new year is a clean slate. Oh that it were true! But life isn't really like that, at least not for responsible people. For most of us, the slate must be wiped clean. In the Christian life, we refer to that as the "R" word — repentance. While repentance always is a dramatic spiritual exercise, it does not always require coming clean before a whole congregation.
For some, repentance is an exercise practiced every five or 10 years — whether they need it or not! That's the spiritual equivalent of trying to unclog a drain that is ignored until it becomes almost too stopped up to clear. When the drain cleaner finally accomplishes its work, the pipes groan in monumental relief.
Most of us who have been around church for a few years have witnessed this kind of overdue repentance. It produces a flood of relief, and the result in a person's life can be exciting. A life that has become spiritually dull or spiritually desensitized is significantly unburdened.
Most of us envy those who seem no longer to require these spiritual "about faces." We've all known those special saints who seem to have it all together and for whom faithful living appears to come naturally. I suspect one of their secrets is not less repentance but more, seeking to stay close enough to God that they regular seek His favor, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness and His direction.
If I could offer a blessing on our readers as 2006 begins, I would pray that God would give each of us the blessing of a closer walk with God, that He would regularly nudge us to prayer, that He would guide us to explore the Scriptures more fervently, that He would lead us to seek greater accountability in our relationship with Him, that he would not hesitate to convict us when external circumstances or our own apathy or disobedience cause us to drift and that He would give us the peace that comes when we truly repent and dedicate every day to Him.
Because we belong to God, we are richer than we know, capable of more than we realize and are among all people the most blessed. Resolve to stay close to Him.