I’m not one who is much for making New Year’s resolutions. It might be because I typically reflect back and think forward at a different time of year . . . August and September, when the school year begins. Maybe it is because “everyone else is doing it,” and I enjoy being a little different. But it is most likely because I’m afraid of failure. I carry a lot of guilt when I set a goal and then fail to attain it, or worse, move backwards.
The Battle of the Bulge isn’t just an infamous battle fought during World War II; it also happens to be a regular occurrence at my house. A few years ago, I began a journey to lose weight and get healthy, under the Lord’s prodding. Since then, I have picked up some of my old bad habits. I was contemplating to set a “resolution” this year to lose weight (at least until my clothes fit again), but each week the terrible scale seems to flash its numbers as though mocking me.
On several occasions, I have made the resolution to read through the entire Bible in a year. I’m ashamed to admit that I have yet to complete this task. Don’t get me wrong, I read the Bible a lot (usually every day), but I’m afraid that there is something, a powerful verse I’ve never read or a nugget of truth that I’ve missed. As a Bible teacher, it embarrasses me that I haven’t read the Scriptures cover to cover, but every time I try, I become distracted. There is a setback. I’m behind, too far to make it in time.
So, I’m tempted to not set any resolutions. To give up on my goals before I have even started. Maybe you feel the same way. Then you need to hear and be reminded of these truths:
- Vision is Important. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 29:18 that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). When we don’t have a goal or purpose in mind, we spin aimlessly in circles running ourselves miserable and thin. We go nowhere and gain nothing. I believe that God wants to do a new thing in our lives this year (see Isaiah 43:19). While I don’t see a Biblical command to make a resolution per se, there are examples of men and women who set their hearts to excelling both on Earth and in building up treasures in Heaven (see Daniel 1:8).
- Guilt Should be Banned. “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (Romans 7:21). In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul, widely considered a hero in the faith, described the “war” that waged in his own life. Although he wanted to do what was right, evil was often the end result. Oh, how I understand!! Too often my failures become my label instead of an opportunity for growth. In the very next chapter in Romans, Paul delivers this great news: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Conviction leads to sanctification, but guilt leads to powerlessness.
- God Gets the Glory. By myself, I’m a horrible mess. That is why any good in me comes from the Lord. Back when I lost close to fifty pounds, I received a lot of accolades from the people around me. They were curious how I did it. At first I said, “Eating better, exercise and lots of prayer.” But as time passed, even though the words did not change, my attitude did. I became prideful, and I lost sight of my true source of transformation (much like Samson did in Judges 16). Isaiah tells us that “our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (64:6b). When you begin to see your resolutions realized, remember that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Is there a resolution or goal that you have been avoiding making? Why? Do you fear failure or what others will think? Consider revaluating. If your vision for change comes from the Lord, give it a second (or third or fourth) try. This time, don’t go it alone and revel in lots of God’s grace when you fall short (you will, we all do).
As for me, I’m once again tackling reading the Bible cover to cover. Like Ezra, I have “set my heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statues” (see Ezra 7:10). It may take me a little longer than a year (maybe even two) as I’ve already had to click the “catch up” button on my app a few times. But I don’t want to quit this time. I want to be a diligent student of His word, and I delight in sharing it with others. So, I’m inviting you to join me here on mariesmuse.com each week to find out what the Lord is teaching me and to dig into God’s word together! May God use you to be the extra encouragement I need to finish the race!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
*For further study, go back and read the scriptures I mentioned here. Take time to meditate on how these truths apply to your life and journal your own goals for this year. End by spending time in prayer.*