The new year is coming up and you’re thinking about resolutions. Lose 20 pounds, read your Bible every day, volunteer, grow that mustache you’ve always dreamed of. As you think about these resolutions, you have an angel appear on one shoulder encouraging you to be sunny and optimistic about your resolutions being achievable if you just put in enough effort, grit and gumption. On the other shoulder a red spandexed doppelganger with horns and pitchfork is telling you that you’ve seen enough years come and go without your resolutions materializing that the shine has worn off your ambitions and you shouldn’t bother. Which is right? Neither. Just use the head between those two shoulders and you’ll see why: our expectations about what we can accomplish by our own resolve should be tempered by the fact that we’re not actually in total control of our lives.
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Getting pushed around
Life has a way of pushing you around. I get it. True story: I grew up on a farm and we had some goats. The meanest, toughest, king of the billy goats was Samson. He liked to butt everything and everybody. He started coming at me one time while I was chopping wood and I started running away like a little chicken, but then I decided that I wouldn’t let Samson push me around anymore, taking my lunch money, making me do his homework, stealing my girlfriend. So I stood up to him, right? That’s what you’re supposed to do with a bully. Actually, you’re not. You’re supposed to tell an authority figure.
But when I was growing up in the 80’s the theory was that you were supposed to stand up to a bully. If you told a teacher about a bully, that teacher would tell you to go find an old man who looks like he knows Kung Fu. Offer to wax his car for free. Maybe he’ll teach you, maybe he won’t, but at least there will be more shiny cars on the street. Simpler times.
Samson, king of the billy goats started charging me and I threw a log at him that I had been chopping. Level 10 wood mage, logicane! I’d like to say that it was a critical hit, but I missed by like two feet. But, as Samson watched the log fly by his head he majestically jumped…and butted the log right on his forehead like an angry Scotsman! And he broke his skull. It was still hanging together, but his horns were all floppy and his eyes were all buggy like they were going to fall out. We wired his horns together with a coat hanger and he ended up being fine, but for the longest time, he had such a splitting headache! … That’s a stupid joke.
You are a highly committed person…seriously.
Likewise though, life has a way of pushing you around, even when you’re minding your own business. I mean, how many resolutions have you made that haven’t materialized? What plans did you have for your life, when life clearly had other plans for you? When our plans don’t work out, does that mean that we weren’t resolved enough, or should we quit making resolutions because it doesn’t matter what we commit ourselves to?
The problem is that even if you resolve to not resolve anymore, you’re still resolving yourself to be committed to other things. People always ask if you’re committed, when the real question is what you’re committed to and who you’re committed to. Because there’s no such thing as a person who’s not committed. Everyone is committed to something. You’re probably pretty committed to your favorite TV show or video games. You’re committed to sleeping in on Saturdays. When we choose not to resolve ourselves to greater commitments, less important things take their place. That’s no way to live your life. We have to continue to resolve to be better, to do better, to strive for better or we’re relegating ourselves to mediocrity and that is unacceptable.
It’s really sad when people give up on making great commitments just because other commitments haven’t worked out in the past. Sure, life isn’t how you pictured it. You weren’t omniscient when you pictured your future. It was foolish to think that your life would turn out just like you wanted it to, but what’s just as foolish, is to stop trying to make it the best that it can be.
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Bad plans/Good plans
The Bible says that one of the reasons that our plans don’t work out is because they weren’t good plans in the first place. They may have looked like it, but they weren’t. In fact, they may have even been harmful. Can you relate?
Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
Instead, know that the people and the place and the responsibilities and the influence that God has given you are good things because they’re from him. Resolve yourself to doing right by the things that God has in your life. Resolve yourself to love your family again in practical ways. Things don’t look like how you want them to with your parents, spouse, kids, grandkids? That stinks, but tough beans. Make the most of what you can. Resolve to acing it with your responsibilities: best student ever, best employee ever, best stay at home mom ever. Resolve yourself to commit yourself to God. God wants you to be more committed to him and his ways than to yourself and your pursuits.
Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
The Year of the (Your Name Here)
2019 is going to be your year! You know how I know? Because you’re not going to give up and be unresolved. And you’re not going to resolve to doing things that aren’t meaningful or good. You’re going to resolve to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.