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If you’ve seen the motion picture Groundhog Day, you know that the main character, a pompous, arrogant, and recalcitrant newscaster, gets stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, at the annual Groundhog Day festival. He relives that day over and over again until he shows personal growth and becomes a better person.
The idea of getting to redo costly personal mistakes is enticing. It definitely made for an entertaining and hilarious movie. This character’s reactions range from earnest striving to resignation to suicidal avoidance. Finally, after countless do-overs, he gets it right.
We often wish we had a do-over, but in reality, like that movie character, we’d mess it up the second time exactly as we did the first, especially if we haven’t pondered the situation, our motives, our actions, and how all of these impacted the people around us. One reason we get stuck in undesirable habits, relationships, and jobs is that we don’t do this inner contemplative work. Another reason is that, quite simply, we’re sinners. Habitual or “besetting” sins often haunt us.
Are you stuck?
We’re at the time of year when we contemplate our lives and professional strategies. As the year winds down, we often pick everything apart. In January we settle on our ideas for tackling the new year, and then, if we’re not reflective, prayerful, and aware of our inner spiritual life and motives, we arrive in February having changed nothing.
Is this you? If so, why?
Now is the time to make that assessment. Are you afraid of the changes you know you have to make? Are you fearful that you can’t change? Have you not uncovered the root cause of the destructive habit or work pattern? Did you simply avoid the process altogether, figuring you’d plod ahead with what worked in the past?
We really can’t do this and flourish.
We’re Christian writers, and we live in a rapidly changing world. On the one hand, in order to be relevant and speak to the heart, we must have our fingers on the pulse of the wider world, politics, racial issues, and changing mores in our society. We must be informed.
Simultaneously, we must be spiritually aware of the Biblical implications of these challenges and whether or not our own response and the responses of the wider Christian world are in sync with Jesus’ commands and instructions. This requires pondering the Scriptures, reading, and dialoguing with other Christians to arrive at solid viewpoints and, often, positions about which we must speak or write.
But on the other hand, writers require time for contemplation, for prayer, and for sitting in silence before God as we process this wild hubbub of rapidly changing marketplace, publishing industry, society, political landscape, and religious culture.
These stretch us in all directions. But, what if we’re stuck? What if our consciences trouble us about any part of this?
Christian life involves constantly repenting and adapting to the work of the Holy Spirit as he utilizes his Word to change our hearts. He’s always active as he draws us to Christ and accomplishes God’s work in the world.
This is my own challenge, and I offer this challenge to you, too. Can we pray that we grow in harmony with the Spirit’s work this year? Can we not allow fear, inertia, ignorance, or guilt to fix us in one spot, immovable and unwilling to change?
Trusting God to lead us into change is far more transformative and less frightening than undergoing a self-improvement project or believing that we ourselves must conjure up all of this transformation on our own. We can’t. God himself does the work.
So, can we trust him? Can we accept this challenge to depend more entirely upon God for every change as we move deeper into the new year? How about it?