It’s been a while.
I haven’t written to you in months - or should I say I haven’t written to myself.
Opening up a blank screen again brought me to a realization: I lack resolve.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty stubborn person. And, when things need to get done, I get them done - despite some major procrastination.
But, resolve? That’s a foreign word to me - and, I would argue, to my entire generation.
In October, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. To commemorate it, Desiring God did a podcast series titled “Here we Stand” which highlighted the life and faith of key influencers during the Reformation. From famous pastors and speakers, to theologians, to wives and mothers - these were people who stood for what they believed in, no matter what.
They conquered earthly obstacles, no doubt. But ultimately, they conquered their own obstacles. They fought against the flesh inside them tempting them to choose comfort and safety and reputation over bearing their cross -- a cross wrought with hardship, trial and suffering. Just like the one their Savior bore. Just like the one our Savior bore.
As I read these accounts, I marveled at their determined resoluteness in the face of powerful opposition. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “I could never do that…”
Of course, they could never have done it either. Not in their own strength, at least. Resolve for the Christian is not just firm determination, but firm determination coupled with desperate reliance on the Holy Spirit. And that’s where I think we fail. I know that’s where I fail.
I think we’ve gotten it all wrong. We gravitate to two extremes: determination to do it by our own strength or complete release of responsibility under the guise of “let go and let God”. Both approaches lead to a vicious cycle of sin and stagnation in the faith. Both approaches miss the mark.
Determined dependence. Resolute reliance. That’s what we must learn. The first alone produces legalism. The second by itself produces flimsy faith. But together, they create a strength of character that roots itself in the strength and promises of God. It’s what the Reformers had. It’s what I hope to have - and I bet you would too.
So, how do we get there? What’s the secret? If we’re asking that, we’re asking the wrong question. Our generation has so over romanticized Christianity to a point where discipline, hard work, and daily faithfulness are put on the back burner to heightened emotional experiences and sought-after supernatural signs. Our focus is all wrong. It’s the day to day stuff that matters, friends. The daily determination to get in the Word. The daily reliance on the Spirit in prayer. Christian resolve will be built brick by brick through the daily disciplines of the faith. If we fail in those, our faith will not stand the test of time or trial.
Luther understood that. He knew that apart from God’s strength, He could do nothing. “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer,” he said. Determined dependance. Resolute reliance. Christian resolve.
Friend, don’t you want that? I know I do. So how about this? The New Year is fast approaching, and resolutions are bound to be made. I implore you, dear Christian, make resolve one of those resolutions. Let’s be determined but dependant, resolute but relying on the Spirit in all things. And maybe one day, another believer will read the story of your faith and think “I couldn’t do that…”
Dear Christian, you can’t. But the Spirit of God in you certainly can. Let’s face 2018 with resolve to be resolved.