Saturday, January 21, 2017

"All My Resolutions Fail" - Chapter I

"How dreadfully old I'm getting!  Sixteen!"

Thus begins a young woman's journal.  With all the optimism and despair of youth, Katie sits down to take stock of where she is at and where she would like to be.  I find it ever so interesting that this fictitious journal begins in January with resolutions galore.  I don't know if New Year's resolutions were the fashion in 1869, when this volume was first published, but they certainly are today.  Human nature, ever the same, is always uncomfortably aware that it has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.  Katie too is laboring under a heavy load of guilt.  She has started journals before, only to give them up because she could not bear the person that they revealed.  She has the undeveloped elements of a fine character, but lacks self control and discretion.  She longs to be praised and admired.  Her list of lofty resolutions are driven by the desire to surprise her acquaintances by how noble and self sacrificing she has become.

I see myself reflected here.

If only I can come up with the perfect set of resolutions.  Change my behavior.  Exercise more willpower.  All my problems stem from my circumstances.  It's other people, getting in my way.  If my kids would just obey.  If my husband would just understand.  If the house would just stay clean.  If my coffee cup would just stay full.  Then things would be different.  Then I could be happy.

"We are all very happy together when nothing goes wrong."

Unfortunately, even when things go perfectly right, (which is rare!)  we can never be perfectly happy so long as we are living for ourselves and in our own power.

"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." 1 Timothy 5:6

Katie wants to be good, but is afraid of the cost.  She hopes that the course of forty or fifty years will fit her for Heaven, but she wants to have a jolly good time meanwhile.  I underlined these words in my copy:

"I wish I loved Him better.  but, oh, I am not sure I do love Him!  I hate to own it to myself and to write it down here, but I will.  I do not love to pray.  I am always eager to get it over with and out of the way so as to have leisure to enjoy myself . . .  I wish I knew whether anybody exactly as bad as I am ever got to heaven at last?"

This was exactly the fears that plagued me as a young teenager.  I knew I ought to love God and enjoy prayer and worship.  Especially since I had made a profession of faith and been baptized!  But when I was honest with myself, I knew this was not the case.  So, like Katie, I tried desperately hard to reform myself.

Today I am secure in my standing with God.  I know that I am my Beloved's and He is mine.  I thank God for His gracious work of salvation and sanctification in my heart.  It is my hope and prayer as we take this journey together that everyone of us will finish this book with the same hope and confidence.  My second aim, and this speaks more to where I am at today, is that I will learn to let God work in my daily sanctification.  He is so kind and so wise.  I can trust Him to bring me along to where He wants me to be.

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 
 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Romans 8:32-33

"According as His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue." 2 Peter 1:3

Rejoice!  We are not in this alone.  It does not depend on our noblest resolutions or our best frame of mind.  We have been called to glory and virtue.

"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

As Katie's wise mother admonishes her,

" I wish I could make you see that God is just as willing and just as able to sanctify as He is to redeem us  It would save you so much weary, disappointing work.  But God has opened my eyes at last . . . If you only knew the strength, and the light, and the joy you might have for the simple asking.  God attaches no conditions to His gifts.  He only says, 'Ask!' "

Thank God for failed resolutions!   It is only an acute sense of our failures that drives us to the only Solution, to our great Promise Kept.

So, what are you laboring under?  What do you have need to ask for? 

 I'm asking for peace and joy in the center of God's obvious will for me.  I'm asking for wisdom to be faithful with the resources that God has given me.  I'm asking for strength to make a happy home for my family, and to be okay when my dreams of perfection meet up with reality.

What are your thoughts from this chapter?  Where do you identify with Katie?  Have you ever been in her shoes?  What about the mother?  Have you any thoughts or stories about your own experiences as a mother or with your mother? 

What about the resolutions?  I found four official resolutions with at least two more "determinations".  Can you list them?  Are there any I missed? 

Resolutions are not at all bad, they can be very useful.  Have you made any this year?  How are they going so far?

I'm new to this book club thing, but hopefully we are off to a good start.  I'm excited to interview a few guests for next weeks post!  

To join in the conversation, just leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  I'll be checking in throughout the day to facilitate a mostly-in-real-time-discussion :-D

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