This is the last week of the first quarter of 1981. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? No, I won’t let you forget. What? You forgot what they were? Did you write them down? See if you can find the paper. No don’t be discouraged. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Take 5 quiet minutes and make several “second quarter” resolutions. Then we’ll take stock at the end of June. Like Paul said: “Forgetting those (failures) that lie behind, and pressing ahead to the goal, I pursue…” Let’s be a pursuing people.
Joshua 7 is a chapter on how to deal with failures of the past. Achan disobeyed God and kept some booty he wasn’t supposed to. So Israel is defeated in their next battle. Joshua is crushed. He rips his shirt open, throws himself on the ground and wails before God. God comes in an amazingly matter-of-fact manner, and simply says: “Get up; why are you on the ground? Israel has sinned. That is why they got beat. Get up and get rid of the sin” (vv.10-13).
OK then, let’s not go around bemoaning all our failures. Get up. Repent. Get the sin out. And let’s be on our way to Ai: “Do not fear or be dismayed…I have given into your hand the King of Ai” (8:1). Renew the New Year’s covenant or make a new one. Write it down. Paste it on your bathroom mirror. Set a limit to it. And be sure to add this contingency clause: “If I fail, I will not mope around in despair. I will encourage my heart in God’s mercy, repent and start up again.” Future life is too precious. The possibilities of joyful service are too great to let yourself be paralyzed by the past.