As we close out 2010 and prepare for 2011 I’m reminded of this idea of setting New Year’s resolutions. While striking cynicism in the hearts of some, in others it creates a sense of excitement; there’s this prospect of starting out with a fresh slate and making some positive changes. Some get a charge out of setting goals and fulfilling them while others know that it amounts to little more than short-term hype—their New Year’s resolutions are usually broken before the end of January.
Regardless of whether or not we set New Year’s resolutions, many of us unfortunately tend to believe in a future that is based on our past. We perceive that the future will hold much of the same and that little can be done in terms of intentional thinking or planning since what generally happens will happen. Those of us who don’t buy into such strict fatalism may still tend to see ourselves in terms of the past however. If we’ve had some negative experiences in the last year and attained few wins under our belts we will most likely face the future with less optimism and hope than those who have a trail lined with success.
But what if we didn’t see our future in terms of how we presently see ourselves? What if we refused to define ourselves by the past and instead looked at our future as God does?
I recently listened to Andy Stanley hit another home run with the final message in the North Point series, Game Plan. He pointed out that we tend to see our children in terms of their future and potential rather than looking at their past with all its mistakes and failures. In 1 Samuel 16 God tells Samuel that He sees not as we see. He looks at our hearts. He looks at what can be done with a heart that is fully committed to Him. He looks at our future through the lenses of redemption and restoration. God does not look at the things we look at.
So what if our heavenly Father really does see us differently than we see ourselves? What if Jeremiah 29:11 is really true? What if God really desires to prosper His children and not harm them? What if He really does have plans for us; plans that we would have a hope and a future? What if His thoughts and ways are really higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8)? Listen to the preceding verses that are filled with hope and goodwill: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their way and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (vs. 6-7).
There is hope for our future. Even if we think we are past half-time in the game. Even if our lives have been defined by failure in the past. God does not see us as we see ourselves. He sees us in terms of redemption and restoration; in terms of our future and potential!
“My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:6-7)