Life solutions, not New Year’s resolutions – Greg Laurie – and
The new year is now upon us!
Did you make a New Years’ resolution yet? How have you been doing with those? Usually people resolve to lose weight in the year and go on some kind of diet. And of course, they usually fail. I have decided that my New Year’s resolution is to gain weight! I figure, since I always break these resolutions like most other people, that I might actually lose a few pounds.
More than resolutions, it seems to me that we need real life solutions.
One good thing about reading the Bible is that it helps us think through life’s true priorities. And then it not only tells us step-by-step how to get where we really want to go, it points us to the unfailing power source that will get us there! What other book does that? In describing his own life priorities, the apostle Paul sometimes used athletic metaphors. More than anything else, this was a man who wanted to know God and God’s purpose for his life. At one point he compared that search to running a race, saying, "I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize …" (Philippians 3:14 NLT).
Searching for God and finding a relationship with Him truly is the most important race you’ll ever run. You might even call it the race of your life.
But what does every race need to make it a race? It needs a starting line, a finish line – and the strength and perseverance to run from one to the other. The starting point can be today – right now. Entering the race begins with a desire to know God and a determination to seek Him. And that’s also the finish line! God Himself promises success for those who are sincerely looking for Him.
But how do you get from here to there? As with any race, you need focus and determined effort. You also need to follow the rules. You can’t just make up your own to suit yourself. You can’t say, "Hey, if I hit the ball eight feet, then that’s a home run. Here are my rules. …" That’s not the way it works. Even if you hit the ball out of the park, you still must cross and touch every single base. If you miss one base, that home run doesn’t count, and you’re "outta there!"
Think of all the rules of competition in the Olympics. One rule is that athletes are prohibited from using steroids or so-called performance-enhancing drugs. In the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, South Korea, American sprinter Carl Lewis won the gold medal when Canadian Ben Johnson was disqualified for steroid use. Johnson may have run hard and fast, but in the end it didn’t matter. He didn’t get the prize because he didn’t play by the rules.
In the same way, this race of life we are running has a rule book. It’s called the Bible, and it is not for us to pick and choose what parts of it we like. You can’t say, "I like certain truths in the Bible. I like the part about God’s love and forgiveness. I really like it when Jesus said, ‘Judge not, and you won’t be judged.’ But some of the other parts seem too narrow to me and cramp my style. I don’t believe in those parts." But you can’t really do that, can you? If you’re going to run this race, and run to win, then you must play by the rules the eternal God has already given to us in the Bible.
Another New Testament writer says: "Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us" (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).
In other words, to run fast and far, you have to run light.
I’m the kind of a person who likes to drag a lot of stuff with me when I travel. I’ve been traveling for many years, yet I still overpack. I want to bring everything I own. But excess baggage makes traveling more complicated.
Sometimes we drag along a lot of extra weight by letting our lives become overloaded. We say we would like to find God, but when do we really search for Him? Are we so busy cramming our schedule that we don’t have time to think through the most important issue of life? We need to set aside those things that slow us down and keep us from the finish line.
One last piece of running advice: Don’t look back! The Bible talks to us about "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead." If you have ever run a race and looked over your shoulder to see what your competitor was doing, then you know that very action can break your stride and ultimately cause you to lose the race.
So it is in the spiritual life. If you’re going to seek a relationship with God and learn to love and follow Him, keep your eyes fixed on that goal! Or, as Paul said, "I press toward the mark."
This race of your life is unlike any other because the results are guaranteed. If you truly seek to know God and find a relationship with Him, He has already promised that you will. He says, "If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you" (Jeremiah 29:13-14, NLT).