Last night we said goodbye to 2008 with Chicago Dogs and Prince Caspian; just an ordinary family night at our house. There was no champagne, no late-night party, no watching the ball drop. But we enjoyed ourselves. In retrospect, it was a fitting end to a rather calm year. We had no big surprises and no major catastrophes. Things just carried on. And yet in the every day seeing of life, much has changed.
Along with reading a lot of things I'd never have touched before with a ten-foot pole, over the course of 2008, I read through the Bible with the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan (a nicely organized method, by the way, if you're interested in trying it). I haven't done this in about 4 years and what surprised me was the flavor it had this time around. (I'm starting to see Ed Cyzewski's point about theology not being static!) Last time I felt bogged down with the requirements and statues of the law, and this time what jumped out at me on almost every page was the tremendous and constant compassion of the Creator God toward His stiff necked and proud people. From the rebellion of Adam, to the yo-yo obedience of the children of Israel, to the arrogance of the Pharisees, God has dealt with flagrantly idolatrous folks. But the biggest how-do-you-do of all was understanding that I stand right there in the camp with them. I came face to face with the realization that I'm just as prideful and stubborn and idolatrous as they were, and that's exactly why I need a Savior.
I started 2008 with a lot of answers on how to live the Christian life and ended it with a truck load of questions. I thought I knew a lot about God and how He worked, and now I'm starting to see that my white middle class American understanding is just a teensy-weensy corner of His greatness. This has been both frightening and humbling. Which leads me to my quest for 2009.
This year I want to learn to:
1. Cry Out--The children of Israel cried out for relief, the lame and the afflicted cried out to Jesus for healing, and the heavenly throng cry out praise to the everlasting King. I, too, need to truly believe that He hears and respond accordingly.
2. Seek, Look, and Fight--I want God to reveal Himself to me in unmistakable ways and that requires a passionate quest through the Scriptures and battle against my flesh, not in legalistic or monastic ways, but in knowing my Savior and following His commands to love as He loves.
3. Humble myself--In reading through the Bible I was overwhelmed with the amount of times Scripture places the humble man in the place of receiving from God. This is not a comfortable place from my human perspective because it requires eating a lot of crow, but if it is the humble that receives grace, I need to be able to stop thinking that I'm right, accept the criticism of others, see my sin for what it is, and confess it before God and man.