We all know the scene. Rocky Balboa from the movie Rocky realizes how he needs to train better. He resolves to improve himself. Then, a song montage plays of him working hard and practicing. By the end of the song, Rocky has become stronger and is ready to take on the world. Many Hollywood movies use this type of scene. That is how I want my life to be.
I will resolve to do better with time management. Or, to be kinder to my family. Or, to exercise more. And, after my own montage, things are all perfect. Unfortunately, that is not my life. And, I know it isn’t. Except for when New Year’s Day comes along.
January 1st makes me feel powerful and ready for whatever comes. In my mind, this is the time when I successfully reinvent myself after 18 times of not doing that. It is perfect! That is until January 2nd comes along and I realize that I am the same exact person as the previous year, making the same exact mistakes and feeling the exact same way. Then, I feel powerless and rethink my entire life.
Here’s the thing though. I go through this process every single year and even every single week. I am a cursed optimist and always expect the best but then have all my hopes dashed when things don’t work out due to my idealistic expectations. With this mindset, as I really look back at 2018, I am disappointed. I have found more mistakes in me than any other year before and I don’t see how there is any silver lining.
It makes me feel like I will never be enough. I don’t think that this is just me. By the middle of January, this is all of us.
It isn’t even just us. This could also be said of a group of 12 men in the Bible. We just celebrated Christmas and the coming of Jesus into the world. After that, the first thing He does to start His ministry on earth is choosing His disciples. This seems normal. What isn’t normal is who He chooses.
The Twelve Disciples
Seven of the twelve disciples were fishermen. More than half of them! Other than them, we also know that Matthew was a tax collector. Although we don’t know what the other four disciples were doing, this gives us an idea of the kind of people that Jesus chose.
Fishermen were the local, uneducated people who did not know how to read or write. Many of them even spoke differently. They were viewed as a part of the ghettos of their day. People looked down on them. However, these were the men that Jesus chose. Men who could not read or write or even talk eloquently. Tax collectors were even worse. Not only were they thought of as the worst of society but they were also selfish cheaters.
So, what do all these people have in common? They were all broken people. People who had problems. People who could not fix themselves. Until Jesus came along, no one paid them any notice. They never had any big plans for change and could never have any.
In fact, notice how Luke introduces Peter. “ ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ ” These are Peter’s words as soon as he sees Jesus’ power.
So, what does Jesus do? He doesn’t wave a magic wand. He just gives them a simple, two-word command. “Follow me.”
That is what they do. They mess up a lot along the way but by the end, when Jesus goes back to Heaven, they are changed. In fact, Peter is even ready to speak to a whole hostile crowd about God.
He still continues making mistakes (see Acts) but by following God, Peter is slowly but surely transformed from a rowdy fisherman to a passionate preacher.
So, yes, we are all filled with mistakes and hopelessness. But, God never said that He was looking for the perfect ones. He came to save the lost, like me and you. All we have to do is in a simple command: follow Him.
I am pretty sure that my New Year’s resolutions will be dashed by the second day of the year. I probably will be upset and discouraged. But, I will choose to follow Him. And, I will be transformed as His follower. That is my defense for my faith.