Every Tuesday night I stay in town after work for our weekly prayer meeting. For those that don't know, I live about 25 minutes from work. Tonight is definitely no exception. It often gives me time to think and just reflect about what is happening in my life.
For the past few years, I have made "New Year's Restrictions" for myself. In 2007, I decided that I wasn't going to drink anything but water. Surprisingly, I accomplished this and was better for doing it. In 2008, it was no fast food. Again, I managed to work it out throughout the year. In 2009, it was no desserts. This one didn't fair as well. I did okay until I was invited over for a birthday celebration and someone handed me a piece of cake. I think it was all downhill from there. However, I did keep with the no pop rule. In 2010, I chose not to drink pop for yet another year and was again successful at my task. This year, however, I have decided that my restrictions would be no restrictions.
Often in the past, I have treated my Christian walk much like my 'New Year's Restrictions'. I won't do this, or I won't do that. Often, I managed to do it for a while but then I would fail and the guilt that flooded over me was overwhelming. I started to see my walk as a failure. Ultimately, guilt was keeping me from obtaining all that God had intended me for because "I wasn't worthy" of being a Christian. I was living in bondage because I thought I was abusing God's grace. My understanding of grace was skewed.
The truth is, that God's grace is not about how bad we are, but rather, that no matter how good we can be it wouldn't be good enough. We can try and be the perfect Christian and always do it right, but in our humanity, we always come up short. Sure, no matter how bad we have been, "nothing can separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39), but we have to remember that "no one is righteous--not even one" (Romans 3:10). We all are in need of God's grace no matter how good we are or how bad we are. No one is restricted from God's grace.
So this year ... no restrictions. Let go of past failures; let go of the past accomplishments; be free. I've quoted it before, but I think it is worth stating again ... "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13b-14)