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One little thing stands in your way

Really, again?

When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” what Peter really wanted to know was not how long he ought to keep forgiving, but how soon he could stop forgiving!*

Jesus, of course, knowing what Peter is up to, comes in with the high bid: seventy times seven. In other words, keep at it until I tell you to stop.

jogging-track-166502What if the one we’re tired of forgiving is ourselves? We try and we fail. We up our efforts and still fall short. We rededicate ourselves, plan for success, rearrange our schedules, purchase all the ingredients, engage all the helpers, invest in the best equipment and still…we fall flat on our faces. What then?

Jesus says, “Forgive yourself, again, just as I have forgiven you, again and again.”

Because He knows something we don’t know; the road we’re on is the one he’s paving. It’s not about making the right turn, following the map, or allowing for traffic. It’s not even about where the road leads. It’s about making forward progress. And nothing halts progress faster than looking around to see if anyone just saw that.

We didn’t. And if you still do, Jesus says, forgive yourself that. And while you’re at it, forgive others theirs. Expand the circumference of your forgiveness and see how far that takes you. But start with your own. And stop counting how many you’re up to. God’s not. Seventy times seven means always and forever.

Clean slate. Nothing holding you back. You got this.

Perishable: Use Immediately

“Life is not a hobby. It’s a precious gift. And you’re one of the lucky ones who get to experience everything it offers. Live it with a desire to that cannot be contained. Love it. Turn every day into a rewarding experience. Surround yourself with the best life has to offer – from people to places to passions. Rise up and push yourself for more. For your life and those in it. This is your time.”  ~ Advertisement for  the Lifetime Fitness Center

Genius.

Yes, one life time. This is our time. You can do it all in your lifetime… start now.

What a great ad pitch for the new year as we consider the times just past and the changes we’d like to adopt. The ‘new’ ushers in another opportunity to get it right. To start fresh, with diligence and dedication for all the right reasons. This time we’re gonna get it right, because we’re worth it.

This is maximum effort time if you’re in the fitness industry. Folks flock to the gym with high hopes and new resolutions. Some stay. Most go. By March, things return pretty much to normal. Traffic dies down and you can get a spot in the exercise class or a seat on your favorite stationary bike.

But a few stick it out. I’m not sure what they find there. Perhaps a personal trainer, exercise companion, class. But these are all means to an end. Facilitators to the feeling that comes when you use your body in ways that are healthy and healing and … can I say holy? It’s different for everyone, but we — the ones who stay — arrive at the same place. We leave feeling different. Stronger. Lighter. Nimbler. Balanced. Better.

Better prepared for life.

Why do I call it a holy workout? Because the one thing I have on earth that I know I won’t have in heaven is my perishable body. It’s meant only for me to use here on this earth in this life. It is perfectly designed so that I can experience whatever my Maker intended for me in this lifetime.

To tune in with my ears. Focus my eyes. Soften my touch. Moisten my lips. Breathe in through my nose. Squeeze my muscles. Stretch my limbs. Activate my heart. All these were given to me to use well. Here and now. In response to the breath of God who spoke the earth into existence and me in it.

The Tipping Point of Resolve

What is the magic of January first?

People invest it with such power. The attraction of the clean slate. The leaving everything behind and starting fresh. My resolution is…I firmly resolve…this time I will get it right…starting tomorrow. Why wait? Why not start right now?

I’ve worked with people who have made all the usual resolutions. I’ve seen and experienced the most success with those who have reached a tipping point. They have come to the verge, gotten the edge, have looked over it and said with a resolute voice, “I’ve had enough; I’m jumping.”

But these jumpers are few. The sustained jumpers even fewer. And for some reason these bring to mind Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic words from Gettysburg. “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” He was speaking at a battlefield where thousands of young men lay. Lincoln’s resolution, “that this nation, under God, will have a new birth of freedom.”

I am overwhelmed by the thought, how sincerely Lincoln meant it and felt it, “these dead shall not have died in vain.” And yet they do. Yes, when people die, we take up their cause. We are resolved not to let this happen again. But “we the people” can only do so much. And we repeat ourselves.

What if I, on January 1st, renew my pledge to accept Lincoln’s challenge in a new light. To resolve to  live so that Christ did not die in vain for me. That He died to bring a new birth of freedom in me. Freedom from all that separates us. And to do that with each new dawn.

Because each day has its chasms, each moment its temptations. And my life really is just the collection of these moments lived among others who like me are resolved to get it right. Girding up our loins to do better, be better, try harder.

I here, highly resolve that Christ did not die in vain. He came so that I might have a new birth of freedom in an abundant life. Delivered from what tethers from the past, guided toward what is health and wholeness in the future.

May the weight of God’s hand, Christ’s very life, be the tipping point for each of us. Happy New Year.

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