Let me start out by clarifying something – I have absolutely nothing against New Year’s resolutions.
In the last thirty years or so, I’ve made plenty of my own. Some I’ve managed to conquer, others not so much. My most recent success story is that on January 11, 2016, I resolved to stop drinking Diet Coke – a battle that many believed impossible for me to fight. Well, nearly a year has passed and I’m proud to report that not once have I given into temptation and partaken of the carbonated life force that is Diet Coke. However, I do have a number of years ahead of me, Lord willing. Only time will tell how long I’m able to keep up the fight.
So please understand – my ‘word of warning’ is not in any way directed at New Year’s resolutions, but rather the mindset behind them.
It makes logical sense that January 1 is the perfect date to start anew – to commit to a new discipline, to avoid bad habits, to conquer our lifelong resolutions, once and for all – because it does usher in a new year. But at the same time, it’s important to recognize that, in fact, there is nothing inherently significant about January 1. It doesn’t carry with it some form of magic that empowers or better enables us to achieve greatness. Deep down, we’re all aware of this truth, yet so many of us fall into the trap of believing that the turning of the calendar year is the only (or at least most significant) opportunity to truly better ourselves.
This perceptual phenomenon also occurs regularly on a much smaller scale. How often have we used the phrase, “I’ll start on Monday” – only to fast-forward a month and find ourselves having never actually started? At some point, we have to stop empowering the calendar and begin to empower ourselves. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” By the grace and strength of God, we have the power to take control of our lives – or rather, to release that control into the hands of the One who has searched us and knows us, whose knowledge of us is far deeper and greater than we could possibly imagine (Psalm 139).
That’s great. Now what?
As you venture into the unknown that is 2017, I want to encourage you with this truth. Tomorrow may not be Monday, or the first of the month or even the beginning of a new calendar year, but it is the first day of the rest of your life. If there’s anything I’ve learned over these past few months, it’s that life is unpredictable. None of us truly has any idea how many years, months or days we have left on this earth. So focus on the “now” – focus on the moments right in front of you.
Do you want to start eating healthier? To stop smoking? To exercise more? That’s fantastic – start now.
Do you desire to grow closer to God? To strengthen your marriage? To become the best parent you can be? Good for you – start now.
Do you have dreams of writing a book, climbing a mountain, running a 5k or traveling the world? That’s incredible – start now.
So whatever it is that’s tugging at your heart, I urge you to pursue it. Pursue it with all of the strength that God promises us. Take a moment to pause and ask Him to reveal what He desires for your life. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40). “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God desires great things for each and every one of us – quite possibly things that far surpass anything that we could possibly imagine for ourselves. But it begins with a pursuit of Him.
That pursuit can’t wait until Monday.
That pursuit starts now.