January is almost through. How are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions? Passing with flying colors? Failing miserably? Or somewhere in between perhaps?
Me, I rarely ever make resolutions for myself. It’s just too much for me. You see, I tend to be a do-er. And a do-er with an unrelenting compulsion to complete a task or project I have set out to accomplish. So resolutions put extra pressure on an already heavy burden I tend to carry all, the, time. Ugh, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
As a Christian though, this should not be so. After all, I am told that the Lord will bear my burden, that in him I will find rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and that I can throw my burden on him and he will sustain me (Psalm 55:22). So why do I feel anxious, overwhelmed, and overburdened with life sometimes?
While there may be many, many factors at play, oftentimes I believe my burden bearing is rooted in forgetting the truth. Matt Chandler described it like this:
Regardless of how many days you live, you will never outgrow having to preach to yourself.
Tomorrow at 1:00 pm, I go in for an MRI. I’ll get there at 12:30. I’ll fill out the same paperwork I have filled out for five years. They’ll put a needle into my arm, and they’ll slide me into that machine for 45 minutes. They’ll take pictures of my brain. Then at 3:00, I get to go to my neuro-oncologist and see what the next six months may or may not look like. It could just be we punt the ball down the field and we’ll go back in in January and get another scan. It could be I get thrown back on chemo starting next week. We just literally have no clue what awaits for me. [He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor after suffering a seizure on Thanksgiving day 5 years ago. He underwent successful brain surgery and began chemo and radiation with a 2 year life expectancy]
At 4:50 a.m. this morning, I woke straight up. I just popped up. Do you know what was happening in my mind? It was, “What will we do at The Village Church if I go down again? What will we do with Acts 29 if I go down again? What’s going to happen to my family if I go down again?”
I’m having to go, “Whoa, where are we going? I’m not going down.” Now I’m having to preach the gospel to myself. I’m having to tell myself, “Hey, you’re in God’s hands, Matt. There’s nothing you can do. He’s for you, not against you. You have all this evidence. You’ve been in the valley, and you found him there. There is no news you’ll get that will take God for surprise, that will cause an emergency to break out in heaven. God is already there. He is already confident. Regardless of the news, you will not, in the long run, lose.” I had to say that to myself this morning over and over again, from 4:50 am until I finally went, “Forget it,” and got up and got in the shower at 6:00.
I’m saying that this morning, and I didn’t say it last night [in the evening sermon]. I talked about knowing the scan was coming, but even coming off of saying last night that I was preaching the gospel to myself, I woke up at 4:50. Are you serious? After a week of preaching to myself, I have to get up again? After I preached about preaching to myself, I have to preach to myself again? That’s a lot of preaching in a two-day span.
Listen. You’re never going to outgrow needing to do that. You’re not. We don’t move past having to tell the truth to ourselves. We’re prone to believe the lie. We have to preach to ourselves the truth. You’re never going to be so discipled, so mature, so far along that you don’t need to preach the truth to yourself.
One of my favorite bands, Rend Collective, has a verse in their song ‘Boldly I Approach’ that says:
When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The great I am the Lord is here
Oh praise the one who fights for me,
and shields my soul eternally
So perhaps the one resolution I should make this year is to lean whole heartedly on the word of God and allow him to not only dispel the anxieties of my heart but fill it with his life-giving truth.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:9-10)