A little under a year ago, I made a resolution for 2011, which you can read in full detail here. But in essence, my resolution was that since I had spent much of 2010 afraid of and for everything (Carol, the kids, the church), I wasn’t going to do the same in 2011, that I would be a fearless person. And I stated it some creative way, that I had used up all my fear for the year and therefore didn’t have any fear left for the next year, something silly like that. But that was my resolution for last year, and I was committed to it, and tried my best.
Looking back, I would have to say it was almost a complete bust. Fear, I have discovered, is not a quantity that can be exhausted, but springs eternal. My fears from the last year were subtly different from the year before, but still there, despite my finely worded new year’s resolution. And the picture of Superman that I had used to inspire me.
So I just want to take a moment to point out the obvious, and that is this: new year’s resolutions are stupid, arbitrary, and futile. Yeah, you already knew that. There is nothing fundamentally different between December 31st and January 1st, nothing that makes resolutions a better bet on one day rather than the other. The new year brings new hope, but a hope that is based on nothing more than latent desire and willpower, which in some rare cases is enough to make a resolution stick, but not in most. Sorry, but it’s true.
And more than simply being a futile process, I think it is a hurtful one. When our resolutions inevitably fail, we lose faith not just in the power of the New Year (which is only fitting), but our own ability to change and grow as humans. And although it is silly, there is some disappointment that we feel when we drop our new year’s resolution, like losing the Powerball, and have to pick ourselves up after getting our hopes up that our lives were going to be different, and better, all because a clock progressed to 12 am.
SO SCREW NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS.
But I’m not saying screw all resolutions.
Back in 1722 and 1723, Jonathan Edwards sat at some desk in New Haven and drafted 70 resolutions for his life, which you can read here (although in altered order). He read these resolutions once a month in order to give him direction and motivation to lead the best possible life. But what is important is that these resolutions were not new year resolutions, drafted because the calendar was a specific time of year, but something quite different, as revealed by the introduction he wrote:
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. – Jonathan Edwards
His resolutions were based not in the power of the new calendar year, but in the power of God, and in light of His grace. They were Christ resolutions, a commitment to change based on the fact that he was changed already by the love and forgiveness of God as expressed so perfectly through the person of Jesus. And his resolutions depended not on his own willpower and mental fortitude, but instead, on the character and power of God, much stronger and more dependable stuff. His resolutions were not an attempt to fundamentally change who he was, for that had already happened through Christ, but instead, to live up to the man that Christ had made him to be.
These are the kinds of resolutions that we should be making.
So by all means, let’s make resolutions, but not because it is 2012, but because Christ is risen, and alive! If we make a resolution, let its chances for success be founded on the Holy Spirit’s intercession into our daily life. If we seek transformation, let it be based on the transformation that the gospel has already wrought in our life. Not new year resolutions – Christ resolutions. And best of all, we don’t have to wait for an arbitrary day to make them, because we can make them every morning, because that is how often God’s mercies are renewed (Lamentations 3).
And so, here are a few of my Christ resolutions, not for the year, but for every day:
– Resolved that I should spend some time in prayer each and every day.
– Resolved that I will never invest in temporary things at the expense of eternal ones, i.e. no playing video games when I could be spending time with God or family, DUH.
– Resolved that I will continue to seek out every opportunity to share the good news, that God loves us and has made a way for us through Christ.
– Resolved that I will have faith in God not when everything is perfect (and faith is not required), but when circumstances are adverse, unclear, and nausea-inducing.
– Resolved that I will make Christ Lord over every moment, especially those that are private and unseen by others, specifically, when I am driving in traffic.
– Resolved that I will not let my love for family outshine my love for God, but instead, strive to ensure that the former is a consequence of the latter…*gulp*
I probably will have a few more, but those are some big ones I want to commit to, not because it is 2012, but because of Christ. How about you, what are some of your Christ resolutions – lemme hear them!