Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A New Year's Ponderings

What is it about New Year's resolutions that are so appealing? As we hang up the new calendar on the wall, it's as if we are mounting hope on that nail. Crisp new pages, squares empty and waiting for appointments and dinner guests. Perhaps we hope a pregnancy due date will appear on one of those squares, a long awaited vacation, the end of a certain job or the beginning of another. Milestones reached, projects accomplished, waistlines trimmed, muscles toned, growth and fruit in our lives produced, the list goes on. Whatever it is, I can't help but notice that in each of us, there is this deep-seeded desire to anticipate and hope for what may lie ahead. Depending on our personalities, it may look different, some the anal planners, some the whimsical adventurists, but regardless of how we get there, the future beckons.

Now we all know we're not supposed to live in the future, wallowing in discontentment or ignorance of the present. We all know that living in the past has it's own smattering of pitfalls and depressors. Balance, balance, balance right! But I'm starting to think there might be some God given purpose to this drive towards tomorrow. God made us right, He even became one of us and then died for our sinfulness and shortcomings as we just celebrated at Christmas. Bottom line, He knows how we work. Could it be that this undeniable pull or push towards bigger and better and deeper and higher is actually there for a reason? Could it be that we are simply and yet profoundly misplacing our aim sometimes? Or maybe those self-improving goals are just fine, but we've missed the purpose of those improvements? Example: Do we desire to lose 10 pounds to look more like that friend we deem so attractive and thus, out of vanity and comparison? Or do we desire to be more fit to be healthier stewards of the bodies God has given us or so we will have more energy to be more effective in the rolls God has given us as parents, spouses, friends, and workers. Same goal perhaps, but the purposes behind it can be oh so different.

A question I want to ask myself as I formulate my goals for the new year is, "How does this goal support the most important goal of loving and knowing my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?" And "How does this goal support loving and serving others, laying down selfishness?" I think if we use questions like these as filters for our goals, we will get closer to God's design for goals. And let's not forget we can do NOTHING apart from Him! We cannot forget the importance of abiding in the vine as our most important goal lest we, as branches, wither. We will always wither and fail apart from Him, even if "working towards" a more intimate relationship with Him is one of our goals. And isn't He ever so worthy of that goal! And how bout our hopes? What are we placing our hope in, has hope transformed into dwelling on something that is out of our control? Are we hoping that some possession or life experience is going to make us complete, truly "happy", content? I think we can sometimes do this unknowingly. We may say in our heads, "only intimacy with the Lord can fulfill me." But at the same time, our true hopes can be completely contradictory. I'll share some of my false hopes with you, just to give you an idea. I've been able to identify these by looking at how much time and mental energy I spend dwelling on them.

1. Having another baby

2. More money for "things"

3. Paying off loans

4. Decorations and new paint for my home

5. A weekend getaway with Travis

Can anyone relate? If we are truly honest, we can each fill in these sentences in our own way. "If only ______ I would be happy." "When ______ happens, then I'll be content with my life."

By this point I'm sure you are hoping for;) some wise answer to all these questions. Well, I think God's Word is the best place for us to look, so I'll leave you with some verses I've found that seem to be a good charge for a new year, or any moment of new mercy for that matter. Please share passages and insights you've found as well!

Philippians 3:7-14
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Philippians 4:13
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Romans 12
"Living Sacrifices
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


Alycia said...


This is a beautiful and very true post that many of us, I am sure, can relate to. I so appreciated the scripture you provided ~ thank you! Blessings to you this week...

NYC said...

This post is absolutely on point! So many times I think, "If only I were here and there or had this or that" I'd b ehappy. But the things that grant us "happiness" are only temporary, fleeting and usually conditioned upon a string of events. However, the joy from the Lord ie ever lasting and sustaining through the most fiery of events. Thank you for this post.