West Franklin Family,

I recently read something that shed light on why I (and I am guessing you too) feel so doggone tired. It has to do with the way our calendar’s work. Consider:

“. . . this time of year can feel particularly rough. Just when I have welcomed the Christ child into the world, the bearer of my sins, the balm for my own anguish, I pack him away in a box marked ‘Christmas’ and start professionally organizing my pantry. . . Christmas and New Years feel so diametrically opposed. A week after I have sung O Holy Night and fallen on my knees at the wonder of Jesus, Miss New Year (2021) comes strutting into my head with an agenda of self-control and Living My Best Life Now.”  Sarah Condon

I’ve never thought about this before. But it’s so true. Moments after we celebrate Christmas, we go into “turn over a new leaf for the new year” mode. On the one hand, we rightly sing with all our might how God sent a Savior into the world because we couldn’t save ourselves. Our next breath (it seems) declares, “Here’s what I am going to do to fix myself now!”

Isn’t that odd? Isn’t that interesting. Let’s be real: isn’t that sick? Declaring how a weary world rejoices in God’s loving rescue operation then sprinting toward how we can now focus on fixing ourselves? Good grief! No wonder I am so tired!

West Franklin family, I want you to hear me. I believe there is a place for will power. I believe there are actions and behaviors and disciplines we have to take and implement in our lives. Yes, yes, and yes. HOWEVER. If we aren’t careful, we will forget our posture must remain in the receiving position. There are things I can do. They are very limited, mind you. But there are things I/we can and must do in our frail will power. BUT there are things (most things, if we are honest) that only God can do. Most of what I desperately need can only be accomplished by God and His power. I can will myself out of bed to read my Bible, for instance. But I cannot cause my heart to be transformed by what I read. I need the Spirit for that. I can will myself to take a 20 minute walk with my wife. But I cannot change her affections toward me. I need God to do that. You see?

The point? Don’t whiplash yourself out of Christmas into trying to fix yourself. Bad news? You can’t fix yourself. Good news? You can’t fix yourself. . .. but God, in Jesus, can. Christmas happened because we were desperate. God came through for us. We are still desperate. And He will always come through.

Take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. Quit “white knuckling” through life. Quit “pulling up your boot straps.” Rest in the grace that there is precious little you can do. Do them. Then let God do what only He can (and wants) to do.

Speaking of which, tomorrow morning – in both services – we will acknowledge together our need for a Savior. We will, again, receive from God what He has done for us in His Son by observing the Lord’s Supper. If you are in the room with us, elements will be provided. If you are watching from home, I encourage you to go ahead and have what you need ready and available.

God willing, in the morning I will see you with my Bible open to Luke 7:36-50.

Because Jesus Loves So Big,

Pastor Matt