Guest Author - Dountonia S. Slack
Did anybody ever think that once you became a Christian that life would be easier? The truth of the matter is life became a lot more difficult. "The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate" (Romans 7: 14b-15 NLT). As the New Year approaches, I am challenged to be better this day forward than I have been in all the other years so that my whole body may be used as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God (Romans 6:13). Therefore, I need to do some "pre-Spring Cleaning" in order to get ready for a genuine, spirit-filled Happy New Year!
My life is cluttered with procrastination, unfinished projects, speech that does not always utter praises, years of depending on my own understanding, and so much more filth. You see, I know I am a mess. How about you? "Facing our sin ultimately ushers us into the presence of Grace, where we find forgiveness, mercy, hope, and celebration" ("Why Sin Matters" by Mark McMinn). As a result, God turns this mess into something useful, beautiful, pure, and fragrant through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:15).
In Psalm 51, David empties his heart out and simply confesses that he cannot stand what he is deep inside and he wants God to do something to him that he cannot do for himself. He asked for forgiveness because he knew he could not fix his situation. No amount of good he did could change what he was inside. "Change me", he pleaded, "and I will embrace my emptiness and I will acknowledge my evil." God forgave him and he continued his journey.
With my renewed commitment to be refreshed like a spring rain (Proverbs 16:15), I have to unpack all of my hidden gizmos I use just to make it through a day. These devices keep holding me down; surrounding me in piles and piles of powerless effort that delays acceptable service to God and others. Not to mention, they make the journey long and grueling. I have to empty out every corner of my life (my thoughts, speech, and deeds) and go to the master knowing that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I must surrender all to Jesus; daily loving and trusting Him ("I Surrender All" by Judson W. Van DeVenter); and, feeding my spirit in a deliberate, disciplined, relational way.
"The person who goes into the new year without some priorities governing their life and without some principles guiding their behavior, is prey to the tempting, unimportant and destructive things in life" (C. Neil Strait). So, this New Year, I resolve to welcome my emptiness and God's presence in a whole new way. A way that is uncluttered and not self-sabotaging to the ministry God has entrusted me.