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As surely as night follows day, ‘tis the season to be jolly turns into ‘tis the season to make resolutions.
Sometimes even drastic ones.
The resolutions are usually written down in a format that resembles an uneasy alliance between a “to do” list, a bucket list, a wish list, and the Ten Commandments.
New Year’s resolutions are promises you make to yourself about improving your behavior. They acknowledge that you could do better, and now’s the time to start.
As a child, I enjoyed making New Year’s resolutions, mainly because everyone I knew was making them. Drawing up a list of my own made me feel as if I were part of some grand world-wide social movement. My resolutions were the kind that most children make, like doing my homework as soon as I got home from school and eating less candy. They stuck for a while, but by Valentine’s Day, after-school hours found me back in front of the TV, serenely munching on chocolates.
Oh, well. I’d tried. I never really felt much remorse over my failed resolutions. It was more a game to me than anything else, like betting how long you can stand on one foot without falling over. I knew it was just a matter of time before the main resolutions fell by the wayside, after which the rest usually followed in quick succession, like dominoes. But I’d just shrug off the massive failure, reach for another chocolate, and eagerly look forward to making my next doomed-to-fail resolutions come New Year’s Eve.
Fast-forward to today. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, but this year I’ve revisited the notion. There seem to me to be so many areas of my life that could use improvement, my combination “to do”/ bucket / wish / Ten Commandments list would fill a book.
What to do?
How can I possibly work on improving all the areas of my life that need improving?
I’m not a child anymore, so making a resolution actually means something to me now. It’s my word. I can no longer resolve to do (or not to do) something, and not follow through.
So should I just pick the really big problem areas and focus on those? Or should I maybe make a few baby-steps resolutions, and if I’m successful at those, raise the resolutions bar to more important levels?
Then it hit me – every improvement that truly needs to be made can be done by making just one resolution.
During his time on Earth, Jesus was favored by God not because God loved him more than us, but because he always did God’s will. For this reason and this reason alone, God was able to bless and strengthen Jesus in every way that he needed to be blessed and strengthened. It was the doing of God’s will that brought Jesus God’s favor.
By that single resolution – to always do God’s will – Jesus was able to make it to his dying breath without sinning. Every improvement that needed to be made in Jesus’ life was made by God working through Jesus’ constantly compliant will.
Those things that did not need improving (because they weren’t relevant to the success of his ministry work) were left as they were.
As a born-again, I already know the importance of doing God’s will. But knowing and doing are two different things. This year, I resolve always to do God’s will. I won’t question. I won’t delay. I won’t try to barter or negotiate. I won’t sulk or throw tantrums. I’ll just heed God’s advice and always do God’s will, like Jesus did.
I’m the headstrong type, so this might be hard for me. But I like the elegance of reducing an almost incalculable number of issues down to a single resolution, and a doable one at that.
Always do God’s will.
If I keep this resolution, everything in my life that truly needs to be improved will be improved. And that’s a promise not from me to myself, but from God himself.