A pastor was riding his bicycle when he saw a boy with a lawn mower for sale. “How much do you want for the mower?” he asked.
“I want just enough money to buy a bicycle.”
Then the pastor asked, “Why don’t we trade?”
The boy looked over the bike as the minister examined the lawn mower. The preacher pulled on the rope to get it started. He pulled and pulled, but it wouldn’t start.
He called the boy over and said, “I can’t get this lawn mower started.”
The boy said, “That’s because you have to cuss at it to get it going.”
The minister replied, “I’m a minister and I don’t cuss. It’s been so long since I’ve been saved that I don’t even remember how to cuss.”
The youngster responded, “You keep pulling on that rope and it’ll come back to you, I promise.”
That’s the trouble with bad habits and unhealthy practices. They keep coming back. We long for change but return to the same patterns.
God specializes in new beginnings and fresh starts. Isaiah 43:19 reads, “Behold, I will do a new thing …” What new thing does God want to do in your life this year?
God’s work is easier when we cooperate with Him. Here are seven ways to position yourself to receive God’s new thing:
First, eliminate excuses. Do you say things like, “I was going to start an exercise routine, but …” or “I’m trying to control my temper, but …” or “I’m going to read my Bible 15 minutes every morning, but …”
Quit giving the Lord excuses. Instead, take responsibility. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier so you can get up 15 minutes earlier. Get a handle on your temper. Start reading your Bible. Be proactive.
Our excuses indicate our lack of willingness to give God a chance to work. Are you giving God excuses?
Second, stop procrastinating. Sometimes we put off taking strategic steps that help us grow spiritually or develop personally. We put off unpleasant tasks. One reason we put things off is we picture a perfect set of circumstances. We set up this perfect picture in our mind and say, “when this happens, then I’ll do …”
Or, “When things settle down, then I’ll __________.” Have you noticed, things usually don’t settle down? We have to learn to manage our time and reorder priorities in the middle of busy times.
We can’t wait until things are perfect. Take action! Do it now!
Third, stop living in the past. Often, we can’t enjoy a fresh start because we’re holding on to some past hurt, disappointment, or regret. Life is full of hurts, disappointments, and regrets. Imperfect people sometimes let us down.
Though people hurt us, no one can make us bitter without our permission. None of us knows what’s going to happen this year, but we can choose how to respond to whatever happens this year.
Fourth, don’t fear failure. Is fear of failure holding you back? Failed attempts or making mistakes is part of living life. In fact, mistakes are great teachers when we’re open to learning from them.
Sometimes we fail because we’re slow getting started, or we fail because we give up too soon. Pastor Rick Warren said, “Failure is the path of least persistence. If at first you don’t succeed, then you’re normal.”
Fifth, take a step to get started. Ask God to show you where you’re falling short, and then ask Him to help you take simple steps that will enrich and improve your life. Identify areas needing improvement and start addressing them.
Sixth, rely on the Lord’s strength. One of the biggest reasons we don’t improve is we live in our own strength instead of depending on the Lord’s strength. We become satisfied with where we are.
I heard about a 20-year-old who went to a palm reader. The fortune teller said, “You’re going to be miserable, lonely and poor until you’re 30.”
“What happens when I turn 30?”
“You’ll get used to it.”
Don’t get used to being less than God wants you to become. Lean on God’s power to progress personally and spiritually.
Seventh recommit your life to God right now. If you want a fresh start, then admit you’re not as close as you should be. Then commit to follow Him more fully this year. Trust Him enough to obey Him and surrender to God’s leadership each day.
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more information, and www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings]