It’s fair to say that all of us have a list of things we want for 2021. Maybe you’re a New Year goal-setter, and every January is full of projections and plans. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve stared down a year with some expectation. Either way, most of us are looking at this new year with a few expectations in mind. We all have things we want to see happen, things we want to accomplish. The problem is, all these things start to compete with each other.
The thing is, we can’t have everything we want.
It’s true. We all want a lot of things, and only a fraction of them are ever going to actually happen in our lives. We need to come to terms with this. And because we can’t have everything, we need to figure out what we want.
We’ve been blessed to grow up in a world where we have access to so much. Knowledge is a Google away. Education happens right in your living room from your laptop. Opportunity is opening up in brand new fields. Futures. Flavors. Fun. All at our fingertips.
But one of the great tensions of life is that we also grew up in a world that told us, “Man, you can have it your way. You can have whatever you want.”
We don’t know what we want.
For example, how many people say that all they want is a great relationship? People are looking for another human who is going to fulfill their expectation. What they have forgotten is that if you want a great relationship, you’ve got to die to yourself. Our world wants it both ways, but you can’t have a great relationship and be self-centered. One of them has to go.
There are plenty of other examples of this. Maybe you just love travel, and you want to spend the rest of your life traveling the world. But a life like that requires funds, and most jobs don’t have a lot of patience for six-month world tour vacations. If you want to travel all the time, your career options just narrowed. You can’t have it both ways.
Unfortunately, we can be the same way in our walk with Jesus. If you want a relationship with God, you can’t say yes to everything else out there. We can’t treasure constant communion with God if we would rather cozy up with our old comfortable habits of sin. We can’t devote ourselves fully to God’s kingdom, if we’re busy building our own. We can’t have it both ways. Hebrews 12 talks about this,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily ensnares,
And let us run with endurance the race set before us.
Brothers and sisters, we have the power to choose what is right in advance. We can choose to live our lives in the fullness that Jesus intended right now. Spiritual maturity does not happen by accident. It happens in the daily decision to die to ourselves, lay aside what weighs us down, and run the race ahead.