By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely
A new year seems to present itself with so many possibilities. As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st every year, we find ourselves being thrust into a new set of potentials; the hoped for goals are sitting bright and shiny before us. And because we mark our progress in yearly increments, it can feel like a weighty affair to pass over from one year to the next. We ask ourselves: do we drag last year's goals with us, or do we start fresh and leave behind what didn’t work the previous 365 days? This seems to be where resolutions come in. Resolutions are promises we make to ourselves filled with hope and an imaginary resolve. For many, the making of resolutions is a yearly ritual that often has mixed, but mostly negative, results. Why? Because from a Christian perspective, resolutions are really inner vows. And vow making is tantamount to placing yourself in the driver's seat of your own life. If 2020 has shown us anything, it's that God is clearly in control of our destiny and can change our plans and circumstances in a New York minute! James 4:13-17 clearly outlines the sinful folly of: (a) creating a plan on your own, (b) boasting about it, and then (c) not doing it:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:13-17 NLT
So, what is a Christian to do? Here is a great example of when we are to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:19 (NLT), “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” We are to come OUT of what the world's expectations are for us and come INTO agreement with the will of God for our lives.
How do we find His will for our lives? We seek. What are we to seek? Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:31 NLT) And Paul reiterated this in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NLT): “We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For He called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.” What way would God consider worthy? His way. As the Lord passed in front of Moses, He proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6 NIV) His description of His character should humbly cause us to walk in agreement with Him in 2021.
So, if we seek to align ourselves with God’s will and way FIRST, then no matter what else comes our way this new year, we will be able to live in God’s newness for us. Let it settle in your spirit that it is OK to walk without any expectations other than the Lord’s. When God gives you vision and equipping, pray for Holy Spirit to guide each and every step this year. As Mother Teresa said, “Don’t pray for clarity. Pray for trust and faith in God’s plan.” May 2021 fill you with powerful examples of God’s wonderful love, faithfulness, compassion, and grace as you boldly live out this new year!