For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
-The Book of Jeremiah (29:11)
The second New Years 2011 hit, we were deluged on Twitter and Facebook with various articles on resolutions and what we’re all going to do better this year over last. Personally, I vowed not to resolve anything. For myself, resolutions are a daily thing I do with a To Do list, as I assess how I failed yesterday and humbly reassess how I’m going to do today better. It’s a part of my personal confession, and a prayer that is continuously given up and redone. But for half of Americans, New Years is a time for major change – and this year like any others, it is about changing one’s Self that is on everyone’s list. See Christian Post Article here for stats and evaluation of American Resolution.
The article has an interesting quote that struck me: “While few Americans succeed in keeping their commitments, Kinnaman noted that the bigger problem may be that Americans focus almost exclusively on themselves when wanting to experience some sort of personal change ‘rather than realizing that lasting change often comes by serving and sacrificing for others‘” (italics added for emphasis). I thought a bit about that, and since I am currently serving God at a Methodist church, which has a huge emphasis on social justice (and I looooove that), something still bothered me about the assessment. There is a component missing that makes without being said, resolutions still feel empty to me.
At last Sunday’s children’s sermon, done by an amazing parent at our church, “Resolutions” was the topic. I was struck about the part about making Self-Centered resolutions, and how we often break our promises to ourselves, but – And the message was focused on Simeon, the man who had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Savior. God had made him a promise, and in his old age, Simeon in the temple, never gave up on God’s promise – and the promise was fulfilled. The point? We often don’t fulfill our promises to our own Self, but God always keeps his. The takeaway – make some promises to others and keep them by following God’s example. A brilliantly crafted message that hits the heart of our selfishness, and puts the center on God.
I would like to emphasize the big point, and many would agree with me, that if you make a resolution, and it is not a promise that comes out of your devotion and love for God, it will not succeed. As simple and simultaneously complex as we humans are, we are not reliable creatures. We do not know the future, and our promises mean very little. God, however, knows all things, and cares for all of us, and it is only in focusing on God, the perfect one, that we become more perfected, and our resolutions (in conjunction with God’s plan for our lives) begin to make more sense.
While I do not make a resolution this year, I will say that each day, I will try to walk more closely with God, and I will rely on God’s faithfulness to help me carry out this plan for my year.