Friday, January 13, 2012

Sunrises and Resolutions

Another new year is upon us. Resolutions have been spoken, and another New Year's Day has gone by where I rebelled against Southern tradition.  Yes, mom. If you're reading this...your little girl forgot to buy collard greens and black-eyed peas AGAIN. To those of you who aren't Southern, or who are just plain unaware, this is a tragedy according to superstitions that date back to the American Civil War.
I'm sorry you had to find out this way, Mom...

On a more positive note, I start this year's first blog post with a New Year's resolution to write at least one blog post a month. This decision comes on the heels of a two-month stint of non-posting. Yes, the Field Trips with God blog was beginning to look like just an empty barren field in the blogosphere. I do apologize to those of you who actually look forward to reading my posts.  Truthfully, the word "resolution" bugs me. Something about it sounds so final...something you can't back out of once you've declared it. Personally, I would much rather call it an "attempted goal." This is because I've noticed we often set huge goals higher than we can attain in the beginning instead of setting smaller realistic goals to accomplish along the way. (This is how I got to the place of not writing, by the way. I wrote weekly blog posts that were so long my husband constituted them as sermons.) When we fall off the wagon, or get burnt out from trying too hard all at once we often get discouraged and quit. We've all heard or experienced it... "I'm going to get out and enjoy the outdoors more this year--NO MORE Prime Time television for me", "I'm going to lose 10 pounds this year because I'm going to exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY", "Only steamed vegetables--NO fried foods for me this year"...The list goes on, and more often than not the end of the year finds us carrying the same 10 pounds, with a remote in one hand, and a KFC bucket in the other. I'm sorry...the truth hurts me, too.

That's because we're always growing to be more like God. While we are growing, we will no doubt fall. However, Proverbs 24:16 reminds us "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." Every morning the sun reminds us of this verse. For, every morning no matter how late I sleep in,the sun always rises. To take it a step further, I think the very nature of the sun is a representation of the nature of God...always good and constant, always there--to bring light and clarity to a situation, or simply a warming presence. There will certainly be times of trial and darkness in this life, but how encouraging to know that God's sun will rise again to bring light and hope to people. (If that isn't a play on words, I don't know what is...)  What if the darkness is too much? So much that it seems it will never lift? That's when we must keep our attention focused on God, remaining hopeful to see His shining face through the clouds of despair and to rest in the warmth of His presence. Some may ask, "How do I rest during those times of trial?" The best answer I have to offer is "Rest assured." Even though we can't always feel it in a dark moment, rest assured He is a light at the end if the tunnel, or a beacon in a stormy night. If we ignore the negative circumstances swarming around us and focus intently on His promises to us, we will surely see the light of His goodness. Did you know there is a place called Barrow, Alaska where the sun doesn't rise for two months in the winter? As we speak, the next sunrise for this northern city is in nine days. Do you know how hopeful those inhabitants must be becoming? I imagine people watching for the sun expectantly...perhaps another good picture of how we should anticipate God even when things look bleak.  To be sure, God always shows up at the appointed time, and if we keep our eyes fixed toward Him we will not be disappointed.  For "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."  (Psalm 30:5)

We should remember this display of God's faithfulness when we struggle with resolutions made throughout the new year. If you find yourself falling away from your goals, don't fret. Forgive yourself and simply focus on the strength of God and His son. With His help, you will surely rise again.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat." 
(Psalm 19:1-6)

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3