The beginning of a new year is so full of possibilities. We are encouraged and inspired to set goals or resolutions to improve ourselves and make the coming year better than the last. I personally love this time of year because I always love a fresh start. Even though each new day gives us a fresh new start, for some reason each new year feels like an even bigger one. Technically there is no difference between the fresh start of a December morning and one of a January morning, but often people are more motivated to improve and better themselves in January, and that is always a good thing.  

I love setting goals and improving myself, whether it’s fitness, my work, my domestic responsibilities, or my personal walk with God. There is always something in my life that could stand to be better and be worked on! One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to making progress on my goals. Real change takes hard work and time. In our microwave society, this is often a shunned concept. If we can do it fast and easy, we will; but fast and easy gains are also fast and easy losses. Many people get frustrated and discouraged when they are trying to make changes in their lives because the changes don’t come quickly. This is often when they look for a “quick fix” like a new diet plan, or a “get rich quick” scheme (not that they would ever actually call it that). The sad truth is these never produce lasting change and those who try to implement them end up even more frustrated and discouraged.  

Lately in my life, as God has been preparing me for some things in my future, I keep hearing the phrase “Submit to the process.” God has a process for doing everything. Anything great in your life is going to be accomplished through God’s process. He is the only one who knows how things have to be done in order to see the change in our lives that we (and he) desire to see. Here are just a few ways that I’ve seen change and growth in my life by submitting to his process.

Spiritual Growth & Character

Hopefully, we all want to grow Spiritually and become more like Jesus, but everyone has fleshly stuff that gets in the way. Bad habits, anger problems, sin and laziness are just a few of things that keep us from becoming closer to God and more like him. The good news, it’s possible to overcome and change these things. The seemingly bad news is: change comes through problems and trials. “We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Rom 5:3-4 NLT).  The second verse talks about endurance, strength of character and hope, which are all things we would love to obtain, but it’s that first verse about problems and trials most people want to skip over. The fact is, those problems and trials really are what strengthen our character and our hope. I’ve lived out this verse many times! I’ve gone through family trials, ministry trials, financial trials and personal trials and I have come out a stronger person because of them. Every time I go through something difficult, I learn to lean on God even more and draw my strength from him. I also learn what really matters in life and to be thankful for the things and people I have in my life.  

We can’t grow spiritually without going through tough times. We can’t learn to trust God without going through periods of unknown in our life where we have to trust him! You would have never learned to ride a bike without taking the training wheels off first, even if that did mean a few falls in the process. This is simply the process God takes us through to draw us closer to him and to cause us to become more like him. Here’s one more scripture to prove my point: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT).