As we embark upon a new year many of us make resolutions. We resolve to make important changes in our lives that are long over due or to perform tasks that we have been putting off. The first day of each year, in a sense, we start fresh. It's a great feeling.
Many times the freshness wears off quickly as we fail to make good on our resolutions or continue to put off certain things. In short, for most, resolve is not enough to bring about much of the change we need.
Since New Years comes only once a year, and change is constantly needed, I can't help but wonder what can be done to hold on to that sense of renewal. How do we effectively change when the thrill of New Year's has worn off and the resolutions that we made suddenly seem unattainable? There is one image that comes to mind, and that is wineskins.
Wineskins are not something I have personally seen but they are mentioned in the Bible. They were used to ferment new wine. Made of animal hide, they were tanned and placed over a fire so that they could be sealed and softened. Then they were sewn up so that the new wine could be poured into them. Afterwards they were sewn shut for a time, until the wine became good.
No one who knew anything about making good wine would consider placing it in an old wineskin. For one thing old wineskins became hard and unyielding. They cracked easily and could not expand during the fermenting process like a new wineskin. To put new wine in an old wineskin would essentially be the same as pouring it down the drain because it would burst.
When we think of this in modern terms an old wineskin can be likened to an old bag. If you have ever tried to put something of value in on old worn out bag you know that the bottom falls out and both the bag and the valuables are broken in the process. We would not consider using them to hold our precious commodities because we know their condition. Their only hope is to be recycled and made new again.
The same thing can be said of our spiritual lives. We are either like an old wineskin that is cracking, non-pliable and unable to hold anything of value or we are like a new wineskin that has been tanned over the fire and made soft and pliable. New wineskins are made especially for new wine and can expand to hold whatever is poured into them.
Sometimes we pray that God will do a new thing in our lives. Our motives are sincere and we know that we are in need of something fresh and life changing. Yet it seems as though things stay the same. If we question this we'd find that we're often the cause of our own problems. They occur when we are unyielding and become "old bags." God is not careless and, while He wants us to receive valuable spiritual commodities, He is unwilling to pour them into something that will allow them to gush out and be wasted.
As we long for something fresh from God it would do us well to look over our lives and our attitudes. When was the last time that we just sat before Him and simply let Him be our God? Have we allowed His Word to tan us and the afflictions of life to be a purifying fire? Are we soft and pliable even to the most challenging commandments and thirsty for a new infilling from Him?
Only then can we become new wineskins rather than being "old bags." Then God can truly pour something of value into us; something that will grow sweeter with time and expand our lives spiritually.
The moral of the story is that we have a choice. We can either allow God to make us a vessel of honor fit for Him to pour something new into or we can continue to live life as "an old bag."
I don't know about you but I don't relish the idea of being an old bag. Crumped up, wrinkled, and cast aside is not appealing to me. Yet in order to receive the freshness needed in my life I know I must submit to Him like never before. Not only so I will be fit for use but so I'll be fit for Him.
With that in mind my one resolution is to know Him like never before. Be it through sweetness or sorrow it is my greatest desire. I've cast aside all my hopes, plans, and dreams at this point to pursue Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say that is a pile of stuff.
What resolution (s) have you made this year and what things might you need to do to keep your resolve when the freshness of New Years has worn off?