It’s New Years Day. The Rose Parade is over, along with the French toast and coffee. I now have a quiet space of time to order my thoughts and address the task of making resolutions for the year ahead. I have found that very few people own up to making actual “resolutions” but that virtually everyone carries out some form of this annual tradition, referring to it as making goals or plans. New Years Day and resolutions go hand-in-hand.
The most common resolutions include losing weight, clearing debts and establishing better habits. They may also include learning a new skill or spending more time with family and friends. These are all good things and worthy endeavors. But as a follower of Jesus, I see even more significance in this practice of making resolutions.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) once wrote, “Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in his buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are now past.”
Personally, I welcome opportunities to reboot life with new possibilities and a fresh start. The new year provides a natural venue for such creative thought. With the ending of each year, there is a natural break point from what was and what is yet to be—a chance to alter the future by imagining what could be.
A resolution is most often defined as a firm decision with determination to follow through. We tend to shy away from resolutions largely because we have such poor records for ever fulfilling them. We may have noble intentions but lack the actual resolve to carry out our plan. We may find it more comfortable not to make such lofty commitments than to dream them and fail.
Our spiritual lives may suffer from the same inertia. God has designed a progressive feature to our redemption—an adventure of discovery into the wonders of what He has accomplished on the Cross. It is a journey filled with points of decision that determine how we will experience God’s grace and how it will shape our lives. Following Jesus is a persistently intentional activity. There are times when we must pause long enough to get our bearings and decide how to proceed. Without such action, we can easily find ourselves meandering off on some random path or languishing in stagnation along the way. We (I) need to be reminded that no one ever wanders into spiritual maturity and no one maintains such maturity by squatting in the same place.
I believe that any significant development in our personal life begins with a decision—an intentional course correction that departs from the way things are and sets off in a new direction. So with that in mind, I’m asking myself what I will resolve to do in this next year? What decisions can I make today that will effect spiritual outcomes in the year ahead? New Years Day offers me the opportunity to “start with a fresh page” and the opening lines on that page may well indicate what the rest of the year will look like.
Happy New Year!