The start of a new year brings hope. This new beginning delivers the courage to believe that anything is possible. Our past days are behind us, and we anticipate better days are ahead. We boldly step into this new season armed with our expectations for how things will be better this year.
I began 2018 like every other year, with goals and expectations. However, the reality of this past year is almost unrecognizable to the original vision I had for it. Instead of losing weight, I gained. Instead of my plans to not work outside the home, I began working two part-time jobs. I expected to welcome an adopted daughter into our family, but instead was given the bittersweet privilege of grieving her premature death. While those around me spent last year thriving, I spent it adjusting to a reality that I neither wanted nor expected.
Learning to adjust to new circumstances has helped me learn some other things, too. I’ve learned I wasn’t who I thought I was. My heart has a greater capacity for unbelief and sin than I was willing to acknowledge. I learned, like Eve in the garden, that sometimes my enemy’s words sound sweeter than my Father’s. More importantly, I learned new things about my Father. He isn’t who I thought he was either. He is more than I believed. He’s bigger and wilder. He is better.
Last year, I learned to cling to him in desperation. His sovereignty both scared and humbled me. His faithfulness bewildered me. His grace sustained me. His love overwhelmed me. His tenderness unraveled me. In all my brokenness of last year, I was given a new taste for him, and I want more. This insatiable craving has inspired my goal for 2019. I want to chase hard after Christ. I simply want more of him.
Jesus’ words to his disciples tell me how to achieve my goal: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). We don’t define the terms of following Christ; he does. He says the way to chase him hard is through daily self-denial and cross-bearing.