Most of us now have our Christmas tree out by the road, stripped of all of its tinsel and former glory. Or, it has been packed away in the attic with the rest of the boxes of decorations. With the house now less festive than just days before, we turn our attention to the New Year that has arrived and is waiting out there before us.

What we know about 2020, is it will be an opportunity, we believe, to start again. It is a chance to begin anew as we take stock of the year that has just concluded, and determine that we are going to make some changes in the year to come. Our hope for this new year, like years previous, is that these changes will help us feel more satisfied or be more fulfilled. In light of this great hope, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions.

If you have done this, then good luck.

Resolutions aren’t so easy to keep. We know this from past experience. Some of us will be successful, at least for a while; others of us have already lost sight of these resolutions just four days in. It happens. We are, after all, only human, and being human means we are far from being perfect. This we know, which is why we spend so much time worrying about these resolutions. We want to be better, look better, feel better, even act better. The problem is, we too often look to and count on the wrong person to help us accomplish this. When we think we have the power to make the necessary changes we so desperately desire to make in our lives, then we ultimately end up frustrated.

This is because our help, as the Bible tells us, comes not from ourselves, but comes from the Lord. This is confirmed by the Apostle Paul, when he wrote his letter to the Corinthian church. To be new, Paul wrote, we must be in Christ. We can’t be wrapped up in our own efforts, but wrapped up instead in the renewing work he has done for us. Trust me, there is a difference. When we resolve to rely upon Christ, Paul writes that it is then we truly become new. And it is then, that the old, ugly, brokenness of our former lives passes away like the days of the calendar. That which we have worked so hard to accomplish, those things we have tried and tried to change and have so often failed at, is offered to us through Jesus Christ as a gift. And it is a free gift at that.

It is so important that we keep this in mind as we face 2020. Because if we really desire a changed life, if we desire to become new, then we have to stop thinking this change comes from ourselves; from our own power and ability. It doesn’t. Experience tells us this so very clearly. Instead, we must look, not to ourselves, but to the only one who truly has the power to change us. We must make the decision to turn our eyes to Jesus. If we want to make a resolution this year that won’t leave us feeling worse than the year before, then we must resolve to stop trying to fix ourselves, and instead give ourselves to the redemptive and perfecting work that Jesus desires to do in our lives. In doing this, we will know the joy of becoming a new creation, and the relief of leaving our old selves, worries, struggles, and disappointments behind in 2019.

Let us resolve to stop trying to make ourselves better, and instead let the one who can do this, do it for us. It is, afterall, what Jesus wants to do for us. It is what he was born to do for you.

Chris Leonard is a pastor at Rock Presbyterian ECO. He can be reached at cleonard@rpcgwd.org