When a battle is lost during a war, those who strategise to fight the war, find another way to win. They enter into a new battlefield, often on new ground, with a different approach, all with the same goal – to win the war. It would seem ludicrous for generals to enter a new battle using precisely the same strategy, familiar to their enemy. Yet somehow, we, the people of God, do precisely that in life.
We will often enter into the new year with the same strategies we used last year, hoping that this year it will be different. We start again with our exercise plan, our diet plan, our savings plan, and hope that this year we will be successful. We continue in our current strategy to save our marriage, raise our children, or get promoted at work, hoping that this year, we will see change. We long for more control and discipline in our lives, but don’t try anything we have not done before. We long to stop that addiction, that bad habit, but rely on the same self-control to get the breakthrough.
As Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
By using the same strategy we used last year, we do not set ourselves up to win, we self-sabotage.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:‘For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)
We are meant to be conquerors, defined as the person who wins. We may have lost the battle last year, but this year we are meant to win. We are meant to overcome, be victorious, conquer, and gain freedom. We are meant to be positioned for winning through our relationship with Christ. What area of your life did you lose the battle in last year?
That is behind you now. As Paul says in Phil 3:12-14, we are to leave the past behind and push on to win the prize.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
An approach that says: “Take it easy and don’t be too hard on yourself,” is not going to get you anywhere, this will not bring any significant changes in your life. Neither will a surrender flag that says: “Nothing will change.” Paul says he “strains” on towards what is ahead; he “presses on towards the goal to win the prize.” What prize is it that you want? Are you willing to strain, to press on? The prize goes only to the ones who are most determined and push the hardest. Is that you? Are you willing to enter the battle again?
Only, this year, take a fresh approach. As you write down your goal (the finish line) that you desire, what are you going to do differently this year? Work out your strategy, improve on the one you had before or try something different. Be clear about what it is you want to achieve and what the battle plan will be. Get practical and break it down into steps. Get others involved in helping you reach your goal. Join a club, find a friend, make a plan to win.
“‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”
‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28-31)
Have you written down your goals? Good. Have you considered the strategy you will use this year? What is the plan to win, to get the prize? Have you written that down, where you can look at it again to see how you are doing? Have you broken the strategy down in steps? Start today.
Father, thank you that we win, that with You in our lives, we are more than conquerors. I may have been defeated last year, but that is behind me now, and I thank you for a fresh start. May I be more fruitful and accomplish more for Your glory this year than I did last year. Strengthen me in my inner person so that I stick to a plan, remain determined, and committed to seeing victory in this area of my life. I praise You for the power at work in me through Christ, which empowers me to press forward toward the finish lines that You have inspired me to reach this year.