Forget about New Year’s resolutions. Honestly, they’re rubbish. The only New Year’s resolution you should have is to grow closer to the Most High because if you have that as your focus, everything else will fall into place, however slowly. I’m not saying don’t set goals for yourself this year or don’t lay out a plan for growth but I am saying don’t let your goals and plans define this next year for you. Goals and plans are all well and good but it’s inevitable that we’ll fail at some point, we’ll over-eat, or skip a work-out, or lose our temper, or complain, or slack off in school, or wake up late, or go to bed late, or not read enough books, or watch too many movies, or not keep in touch with friends etc. etc. etc. We’re not going to keep our New Year’s resolutions perfectly and actually, a lot of us are gonna forget them within the first few weeks, or months, if you’re fortunate. When “real life” gets back into full swing, our penciled-in goals are gonna seem impossibly high and our flowery resolutions far too difficult. And listen, that’s okay.
It’s okay because God didn’t say “keep this impossibly lengthy list of goals and resolutions that you’ve set for yourself and then I’ll be happy with you.” He didn’t even say “keep all My commandments and then I’ll be happy with you.” What He did say, among a host of other things, is “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” | John 16:33.
Let that sink in.
Jesus Christ actually promises that we will have tribulation, that we will have trials as Christians living in a fallen world under the Curse. We’re gonna experience hardship this year, some of us may experience more than others, and that hardship is going to take many different forms. While I wouldn’t say that failing to keep your New Year’s resolution is a “hardship”, seems a little laughable to put it that way, I won’t minimize the struggle some people have when they do set goals for themselves and fail to achieve them at the end of the year. It’s frustrating when you’ve worked towards something with everything you have and then, for whatever reason(s), your plan never materializes. And that is EXACTLY why you/we can’t place (y)our hope, identity, trust, insert whatever other word you want, in (y)our dreams, plans, goals, and resolutions. At the end of the day, growing closer to the Most High God is the only thing that matters. One of my pastors asked us in a sermon the other Sunday, “are you growing? can you look back on 2018 and say, by the grace of the Most High, I’ve grown, however little but I’ve grown?” If you can, then you’ve killed 2018, you’ve given it everything you had and you’ve conquered.
Perhaps I’m linking this all back to growth because growth was a massive part of this year for me. I grew closer to my Saviour, closer to the King of the Universe, and I grew up. I lost a friend, got over a heart-break, stepped outside of my comfort zone, finished writing a novel, got baptized, switched offices at work (doesn’t seem like a big deal but accepting change in small or big forms is still a battle I’m trying to win), learned that I can’t save people from their demons, that sometimes you’re just collateral damage in someone else’s war against themselves, watched my close friends grow and learn lessons of their own, and emerged on the other side of The Refiner’s Fire a little shaken but purer, more whole, and more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. 2018 was grand.
Which brings me to the last part of John 16:33, the part where Adonai says “be of a good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Yes, be of good cheer. Be of good cheer even when the fire’s blazing hot around you, when the tears are streaming down your face, when your life isn’t going as planned, when people are letting you down…again, when everything seems to be falling apart, when you’ve let your emotions run ahead of you, when your New Year’s resolutions aren’t working out, be of good cheer. Why? Because HE has overcome it all. He has overcome the world and we have NOTHING to fear. Nothing.
So sail your ship into 2019 with good cheer. Not with some sort fairy-like naivete that says “oh, it’ll all be hunky-dory and problems are just figments of your imagination” or “oh, just stay positive”. Rubbish. You can’t be positive when your world’s falling to pieces, whatever that means exactly for you. You just can’t. Not unless you know and understand and believe from the depths of your heart, with every fibre of your mortal being that Jesus Christ has overcome the world. If you have Him, you have it all. If you don’t have Him, you have nothing, and the storms of 2019 are gonna batter your little boat to smithereens.
Don’t freak out over New Year’s resolutions and for heaven’s sake, don’t obsess over them. Strive to grow closer to the Most High and I can promise you that if you’re following Him with your whole heart, that you’re going to conquer 2019 just like you conquered 2018 and that, my friends, is the only New Year’s resolution that matters.
Sail on and be magnificent.
No idea who these two precious kiddos are but I snagged this gem from Pinterest and it’s a good reminder for what we should be doing in 2019: Looking for Adventure on the horizon with the eyes of hope that only come from child-like faith in the Most High. Be of good cheer and live with your eyes wide open in anticipation of Glory.
Also, in closing and because my brain’s all rambly as usual, here’s a poem from Arthur Bennet’s The Valley of Vision. A prayer, really, which captures the essence of sailing onward into the New Year.
“Guide Me This Year, O Lord” | The Valley of Vision
Oh Lord, a long life does not profit me except in the days spent in Your presence, in Your service, for Your glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, that follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, and aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from You.
May I rely on Your Spirit to supply every thought, speak every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every ounce of faith.
Give me a desire to show forth Your praise, testify of Your love, and advance Your Kingdom.
I launch my ship into the unknown waters of this year, with You, O Father, as my harbour, You, O Son, as my helm, You, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to Heaven with my lamp burning, my ear open to Your calls, my heart full of love, my soul free.
Give me Your grace to sanctify me, Your comforts to cheer, Your wisdom to teach, Your right hand to guide, Your counsel to instruct, Your law to judge, Your presence to stabilize.
May Your fear be my awe, Your triumphs my joy.