Raw Reflections from the Journey

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Miracles I'm willing to work for (aka, New Year's Resolutions)

Sounds a little off, doesn't it? Miracles I'll work for? By definition, a miracle is something beyond the norm, and usually not something you bring about for yourself, but follow me for a minute (or two).

Typically, New Year's Resolutions are desires for something different because a person is sick of the way things are. So, typically, a statement of resolve goes something like this, "Next year, I'm not going to..." That's a set up for failure because its about eliminating some type of activity or behavior. Better is a statement of what one IS going to do. "Next Year I'm going to eat low cholesterol proteins toward the goal of developing a more lean body, and healthy cardiovascular system."

An even better and more successful way to accomplish goals is to visualize the end result and the benefits of achieving that end. "Next year, by June 2012, I will be cycling with the strongest group of riders in my hometown at or near the same body weight that I was when racing ten years ago." There are a lot of do's and don'ts embedded in that goal, but the way its said increases the probability that it will become a reality. And, it becomes more desirable as something I'll work for as I visualize myself doing this and enjoy some emotional imagination about how it will feel.

As 2011 winds down with a big accomplishment (Publishing our book, "Marriage Coaching: Heart Hope and Skills for a Great Relationship") and a big loss (my father's passing on Nov. 28), I've been moved to consider what I want for the next season of life and the action-steps to make those desires a reality. The tired language of "New Year's Resolutions" just isn't cutting it for me, and some of my desires seem so big that I think they would be on the order of a miracle and would also require my cooperation to bring them about and sustain them, thus the lingo, "Miracles I'm willing to work for."

I came to this partially from experience in our counseling and coaching practice, Grace and Truth, this past year as we watched many miracles unfold. One was particularly poignant.

A person w/ life-long addiction came to a head when they attempted to purchase heroin. The deal went bad, and the buyer was slashed with a knife. The cut was millimeters from a major artery. Sobered by the near death experience, they prayed for Jesus to take the desire to get high. A week later, with bandages still in place, they appeared in my office with family for a pre-treatment evaluation. "I'm healed. I haven't had any cravings at all.", they said, in part because they didn't see the need for treatment since the desire to use had abated. "Great!" we exclaimed in celebration about the miraculous cure Jesus had administered.

"Now" I argued, "Let's begin an aggressive course of treatment to help you to steward your miracle". My tact was appreciated by a long suffering family. "God has graced you with the absence of craving to get high again. Now, let's support that with education about all the ways you can steward this with time-tested principles and behaviors that will help to support enduring sobriety."

The end of this story is happy, so far. Indeed, it appears that a miracle was wrought in this person's life, AND the follow-up treatment to educate about ways to handle any temptations to relapse, as well as development of healthy personal habits and disciplines and growth in interpersonal communication and conflict resolutions skills has been the due diligence on the back end of the miracle that supports it.

Make sense?

Perhaps you feel like you need a miraculous break-through in an area of life that has long plagued and troubled you? Or you'd like to return to a level of functioning or fitness (not just physical, but also perhaps spiritual, mental, relational, etc.)?

My conversation with the Lord recently has been to confide desires in several areas (physical, spiritual, professional) that I don't think will happen until they begin with the provision of supernatural grace. "Lord, here are some miracles I'm willing to work for. Would you begin by initiating them with desire or removing desire, and then give me the grace, desire and strength to say yes and no to the habits and activities that will steward the miracle?"

What are miracles you'd be willing to work for? What is the eventuality that you want to realize, and backing up from that (its 5 months till June for me), what do you need to start or stop doing, and do more or less that will make your desire a reality?

I've dared to write out my list, and I'm praying over it every morning, working as if the attainment of these goals depends on me, and praying for God's miraculous grace as if it depends on Him!

God bless,



  1. Jeff, I love this! And I'm 100% with you. I have one very clear "miracle I'm willing to work for" in 2012, and I'm trying to help others define theirs. Thanks for this powerful perspective, my friend. I plan to share it with others.

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  3. Jeff...think about you and Jill all the time...John and I were just talking (GOOD!) about you the other day. 2011 was a ROUGH year...better left in the dust as far as I am concerned. Anyway, would love to visit, so let's set that up soon.

    Anyway, in the throws of counseling internship--and teaching middle school-- and looking for a doctoral program that fits the bill (figuratively and practically!)

    This post of yours is particularly relevant in my work with substance abuse addicts--many of whom are Christians. I will share this at our next group session. I am sure it will be quite the conversation starter.

    On another note, with your background in coaching and counseling, would you recommend your's and Jill's new book for counseling/coaching substance abusers who also need marriage counseling?

    Love to you and Jill!