How many times have you anxiously awaited the arrival of a New Year — hoping for that all-important fresh start — only to be sorely disappointed when your resolutions go nowhere?
Or even worse, how many times have you accomplished a resolution, only to find that the pure bliss you expected to experience upon its completion was short-lived? You anticipated that “if only I could (fill in the blank) this year,” then I would finally be on top of things… then our family life would run more smoothly… then I would have more time for myself… then I would have time for others… then I would finally be content.
Several years ago, I made a familiar resolution to exercise more so I could finally shed pregnancy pounds that had lingered way too long. However, I fell out of my new routine as quickly as I tried to start it. April arrived and I realized two things: I was going to be in my sister’s wedding in June, and we’d just booked a 15th anniversary trip to Cancun for November. I had to decide if I would get busy now, or be really sorry that I hadn’t (and avoid all cameras) later.
I decided to go for it. Exercising three days a week and watching my diet, I lost a dress size by June and a total of 25lbs in time to be swimsuit-ready for those tropical beaches in November. I was so proud of myself for finally reaching my “ideal” weight and crossing that lingering challenge off my resolutions list at last.
However, when we got back from our trip of a lifetime, I was strangely let down. No more pressing goal, and the joy of the achievement was fleeting. By Dec. 31, I was already looking for another magic resolution to fulfill me. Why was I so unsatisfied?
The fact is, no earthly accomplishment is enough to fulfill our constant pursuit of happiness. We might bask in the glow of reaching the summit, but after the thrill subsides, we’re back where we started, wondering what to cross off the list next. And the list goes on and on…
Jesus has an answer to this vicious cycle. He instructs us not to be consumed with earthly pursuits:
But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:25-34
He doesn’t mean we should abandon personal responsibility, but He explains that if we’re consumed with His purpose, which has eternal value, rather than our own wish list, we can trust Him to take care of the little things and big things. Those resolutions disappoint us because we forget to ask God what they should be.
As hard as it is for a Type A personality, analytical list maker like myself not to carefully chart out the next year’s plan of accomplishments, constantly striving for improvement, I realized that I had to let go, ask The Lord for direction, and be willing to wait for His response. I needed to stop, pray, listen, and resolve to seek His guidance — then move forward. See my recent two-part series, “Where to Start When Seeking God’s Direction,” for more on what I learned about seeking Him first and using the Bible to guide me to God’s priorities for us.
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. — Matthew 6:25-34
In this new year, resolve to seek God first. Although we all have material needs and desires, don’t let them become the driving force of your goals and plans. Instead, make time with Him and His word the priority. And as you do, His plans will become your plans, His purpose for you will become your priority, and He will equip and strengthen you for the work that He has called you to. The “results” will never disappoint!
Are you making and resolutions? How will you resolve to seek and serve God in 2014?
Renée Gotcher @ NextGen Homeschool