A Turn For the Better

Did you make a New Year’s resolution?

If you did, don’t give up on it.

If you haven’t, it’s not too late.

Either way, it might be worth your while.

According to the American Cancer Society, folks who make it their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking kick the habit at far greater rates than people who sort of figure they’ll get around to it. I suspect that’s true for losing weight, getting out of debt, helping others, and getting better organized. They’re all popular New Year’s resolutions, too.

If you did made a New Year’s resolution, and broken it already, you’re not alone. Over a third of people who make a resolution report breaking it by the end of one month. If that’s you, I have good news: Lent starts early this year. Early, as in, eight days after the ground hog sees it shadow, you can have your forehead shadowed with ashes, and re-make your New Year’s resolution all over again, or keep the one you’ve been keeping, or finally get around to coming up with one. Lent is good for that.

Lent is a forty-day season of repentance, and in the language of the Bible, repentance means turning a piece of your life around. In Ephesians, Paul speaks of repentance as a putting off an old self, and a putting on of a new self.

“Put off falsehood, “ Paul writes, “and speak truthfully to your neighbor.”

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer,” he writes, “but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they have something to share with those in need.”

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” Paul says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:20-31)

Repentance is a turn from a self-defined life to a God-defined life. And because our lives full of deeply entrenched, self-defined ways, repentance is a life of turning and turning and turning ourselves from sin to righteousness. Repentance is a turn we make one habit, one choice, one day at a time. Turn after turn until the day we see Christ face to face, “and shall be made like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Keeping this hope keeps us turning to live the way Christ lives. (1 John 3:2-3)

Did you make a new life resolution?

If you have, keep on turning.