Serendipity. The event was over and now it was time to take down the banners. It was a beautiful Southern California day and as I gently rolled up the last vinyl banner I began to think about how close I was to the ocean. I haven’t been to the harbor in so long, I thought, and I brought my Bible. Why not? Why not take a little quiet time at the harbor?
I cruised up one hill and down another and merged onto Harbor Drive. It was at that corner, the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Harbor Drive, that I first saw the signs – Festival of the Whales. The Festival of the Whales is an annual event in Dana Point and draws people from all over. And this was the last day – it didn’t take long to realize that it would be extremely crowded at the harbor. Remember the Turkey Trot? I reminded myself. Oh yes, another time I decided to make an impromptu visit to the harbor and ended up taking half an hour to travel half a mile only to end up right where I started. I decided I would make the loop around Harbor Drive, and if by some miracle I found a parking spot, I would stay.
It wasn’t looking good. Cars lined the road, filling every legal place to park. Some of the parking lots were cordoned off and occupied by colorful booths filled with all kinds of things to eat and buy. My hope of finding a spot was dwindling until I slowly drove past the parking lot adjacent to Baby Beach. Could that be an empty spot? I quickly turned in and to my utter amazement, I found a place to park.
Baby Beach is so named because it is a quiet part of the harbor, shallow and marked off by buoys, a perfect place for little ones to play. The water gently laps on a soft, sandy beach. On this particular day, though, adults outnumbered children and a floating dock had been assembled in the harbor. From the dock I heard the sounds of a band warming up, the mic checks, the drums and I realized that they were preparing for a concert. I sat down on an empty bench in direct view of the band platform and opened my Bible. I began to read, but couldn’t help but stop to thank God for this wonderful opportunity. To thank Him for a beautiful day filled with sunshine and ocean air. Soon the band began to play and music filled the harbor and more people filled the empty spaces so that the sand now looked like a patchwork quilt of blankets. Women danced on the shore. In spirit, I was dancing with them. In reality, I only let loose from the waist up – my lower half stayed planted on the bench. I didn’t want to embarrass my children, after all. It was a glorious way to spend an hour and it was so completely unexpected.
Serendipity – the accidental discovery of something pleasant, valuable, or useful. Was it really serendipitous, or was it a gift from God? The divine nudge to go to the harbor, an open parking spot, an empty bench in direct view of the band – I wondered. But I didn’t wonder long. The answer sang in my heart and a smile filled my face as I thanked God for being so wonderful.
Resolutions. “No,” my son-in-law said, “not resolutions, life goals.”
“What? We can’t say New Year’s Revolutions? I mean resolutions?” We all laughed at my slip of tongue, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we should make new year revolutions and not resolutions.
Let’s face it, we have all started out the new year resolved to make changes for the better: to live healthier, to be more productive, to have better relationships. And yet many of us find ourselves making those same resolutions one year later. Why is that?
I appreciate that my son-in-law was trying to take the resolution out of the new year tradition of self-improvement by introducing me to the idea of life goals instead. It speaks to the difficulty so many of us have with succeeding in being resolute towards the changes we want to make in the new year.
And so, I think my slip of the tongue was actually very providential. Clearly resolve is not enough. Apparently our desire to satisfy ourselves, our flesh, is greater than our desire to change. Good intentions are no match for our stubborn nature. The Apostle Paul said it so well when he wrote to the Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I hear you, Paul. I’m with you. I know I should eat healthier, but donuts just taste so good. I know I should exercise, but I’m so tired. I know I should speak kindly with words of encouragement, but there’s much too much to do to slow down for that. I know I shouldn’t worry, but how else can I feel in control? I resolve to do good, to do better, but on my own it is a constant battle.
So what’s a girl, or guy, to do? Throw in the towel? Just wash our hands of the billion dollar self-improvement industry and say, “No thanks, no need for improvement here”? I don’t think so! But it is time for a reality check and a revolution.
The reality check is that resolve, will power and good intentions on their own can only go so far ~ how many of us are writing the same resolutions from last year? The reality check is that there is a constant battle between our human nature, our flesh, and our spiritual nature. It is time we acknowledged the real battle and take a step further and declare an outright revolution. A New Year’s Revolution. With the power of the spirit in us, with the right motivation and intentions, with a real desire to honor God, we will have the chance to overthrow the fleshly nature.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14
Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
Are you ready for real change and transformation this year? I am! Let these verses be our manifesto. Let’s desire all the good things that God wants for our lives ~ a healthy lifestyle, loving relationships with others, and most importantly, a deep relationship with the one who created us. If this is your desire, then join me in a New Year’s Revolution led by the Holy Spirit!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24