I suppose it’s appropriate to post something about New Year’s resolutions since we are only a couple of days from the new year, but I have to admit I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like the whole concept. We look back at the passing year with something like regret and convince ourselves we will do better next year, in spite of the evidence that we did this last New Year’s Eve and our resolve didn’t last past the end of January – if we’re lucky. I don’t know what it is about us that we think we can will ourselves into being better. I know I sound a bit cranky right now, perhaps even downright crotchety, but my point here is that we need help. I am all in favor of wanting change in our lives, of becoming better people, but it needs to be based on what is true. And the truth is that making some noble sounding declarations on January 1st about what we will do for the next 365 days just doesn’t work. It misses the big picture.
I want to be more Christ like. I want my life to reflect the values that I claim to hold. I want to show the “family resemblance” to my Father in the everyday goings-on of my life. To do that, I need more than just will power, I need resurrection power. I need the very life of Christ to course through my spiritual veins. I recently read a sermon by the great 1800’s Scottish preacher Andrew Murray about the life of the vine based on John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing” Murray makes the point that the branch is totally dependent on the vine. In order to grow, to thrive, to stay hydrated, to produce grapes, the branch must simply rest in the effectiveness and faithfulness of the vine to provide everything it needs. The same is true for our lives – becoming totally dependent on Christ for all we need. It is both a hard and simple concept to grasp. We want to be self-reliant, but in order to truly change our lives we need to go to the One who has the power to change us.
Murray writes, “The man who has got something is not absolutely dependent. But the man who has got nothing is absolutely dependent… The branch has nothing but what it gets from the vine. You and I have nothing but what we get from Jesus.” As long as I hold on to the notion that I can change myself, that my self-effort can produce a better me, I will never be absolutely dependent. I will always be fighting Him for control of my life, but, oh to be nothing, to bring nothing to the table but my desperate need, then I can receive from Him everything.
Again Murray writes, “If I am something, then God is not everything, but when I become nothing, God can become all.”
So the bottom line is this: I won’t be making New Year’s resolutions, instead I will make daily declarations of my “nothingness” to Christ. I desire to be a branch, a very dependent branch. I want to be a branch every hour of every day of this year and every year. And a year from now, I hope to be more nothing and Him be everything. So instead of wishing you a Happy New Year, I wish you a Happy Nothing Year.