In the mid 1700s, English writer Samuel Johnson made a resolution to get up in the morning to pray. In 1738 he wrote, “Oh, Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” Twenty-one years later, he was praying the same prayer: “Enable me to shake off idleness and sloth.” Two years later he admitted, “I have resolved until I have resolved that I am afraid to resolve again.” Just a few years before his death, he wrote, “When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try to resolve again?”
Ever been there? Making the same promises to God as you did 30 years ago? The apostle Paul knew that feeling: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). Paul didn’t just do bad stuff. He kept on doing it! His struggle was exhaustingly persistent.
But Paul knew where to turn in the midst of feeling spiritually stuck—“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25). I adore those words. God rescues wretches. Wretched men. Pathetic women. Actual sinners. Me and you.
That’s why, like Samuel Johnson, we keep trying. Christ’s love compels us. His grace motivates us to get up and take on sin once again. And, no matter what happens, grace will have the final word. Thanks be to God!