You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ CS Lewis
I’ve never made any New Year Resolutions! Perhaps I don’t like making promises to myself, to others, or to God, that I might break. I’m not keen on sudden change in my life either, and I definitely have a dislike for being pinned down to someone else’s values. When other people are saying they’re going to do this or that, I wait and see. And why is it always on New Year’s Day that we’re expected to make these ‘brave’ decisions? I’ve heard of too many broken resolutions and wondered why people feel obliged to make them every year.
But I was interested in last Sunday’s sermon, where the preacher gave us some advice on how to make New Year resolutions. His title was ‘Taking the Leap’. Now that’s hard for me. Before being willing to step out, I like to know all about things. I’m not a risk-taker! There are enough of them in our family, so I think there’s a need for some balance to counteract what I call their recklessness!
The preacher did offer some good points, though, and the first one was that many resolutions are too general. Now that’s exactly what I think. How often have I wanted to know more details about the big challenge that’s about to come into my life? One that we’re choosing to take on…well, someone is!
But I’ve learned that it’s perfectly alright to take the hand of God and go where he leads me, even if I’m fearful. I mustn’t let fear be my guide in any decision-making. I have the Holy Spirit as my wise counsellor. God knows I need to understand some things, but he requires faith. Now why is that? It’s because I must first believe he exists, and that he’ll keep his promise to never leave me. It’s hopeless to think I can do it all by myself. That’s why many resolutions fail; they’re not God-given ones. He has the best priorities and when he sent Jesus as a baby, it was his way of making a promise to us: ‘Here’s the only way you can come to me; here’s my hand, now hold on!
Jesus also had something to say about holding on. One day a man offered to follow him, but Jesus said, No man who puts his hand to the plough and looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
I wonder how that man felt. If it were the first day of the year, he might have written down this resolution: ‘I’ll tell Jesus I’ll follow him anywhere!’ But he had a proviso: first he wanted to say goodbye to his family. Why hadn’t he said goodbye to them before making that declaration to Jesus? It’s far better to count the cost first.
A ploughman won’t make a straight line if he’s continually looking behind. Neither can the driver of a car keep looking at the cattle in the paddocks by the road; the vehicle will veer in the direction the driver is looking! Do we want to continue to make the same old resolutions every New Year’s Day, leaving a trail of crooked furrows, or perhaps killing a slow cow or two? Of course we don’t.
Any time of the year is suitable for setting goals. God doesn’t only have his ear open on the first of January So let’s be resolute! With him in charge, we’re safe to look ahead and we can expect him to lead us on.