Well, I may be a little late here, but allow me to wish you a very Happy New Year!
I imagine your new year is well underway by now, with school back in session and work back to the grind and that new diet or exercise plan driving you crazy already. I imagine you’re full of hope and refreshment and the ecstasy-like high that comes from dreaming about the future …
… perhaps, however, you find yourself in my shoes: tired, disorganized, and feeling a little bowled over by the new year already. Maybe your resolutions have lost their luster—or you haven’t even found the time to make them yet—and this new year is simply feeling like a continuation of the holiday chaos and exhaustion.
My year has not begun in quite the fashion I’d hoped: like dominoes, the adults in my house fell one by one, succumbing to some hideous stomach flu (hey, we got a jumpstart on that whole “new year’s cleanse” thing). My children have seemingly embraced the dark side of their toddlerhood, and I’m feeling the full force of the so-called “terrible twos” (the force is strong with those ones). And after two wonderful weeks, my mom flew back to Georgia yesterday, taking with her a huge part of my heart.
No, 2016 isn’t beginning as neatly and cleanly as I’d once hoped. There are still Christmas tree needles dotting the floor, the laundry is piled up again, and I have no idea what I’m feeding my family for dinner tonight. I have lists of the lists I need to make, and all the while, I can feel my as-yet-materialized grand resolutions slipping through my fingers.
But you know what?
Maybe that’s OK.
Ghosts of Resolutions Past
I’m one of those people who love to make resolutions. Every year since middle school, I’ve sketched out glorious, far-reaching plans to achieve all the things that would make the coming months fabulous.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I craft a colossal “to do” list at the start of each year, but I know I’m not alone in my striving. I believe we’re all aware, at least on a subconscious level, of the chaotic, relentless spinning of the earth … of the uncertainty presented by each day, week, and month.
That’s why resolutions are so appealing, in part: they conjure up for us the illusion of control. If I make my list, bolding and underlining my bullet points, then somehow that chaotic spinning feels slightly less frightening.
That is, until the wheels come flying off about mid to late January.
It’s perfectly normal and inherently human to grasp at something to help calm our fears of what the coming year holds. But I don’t believe our soothing can be found in weight loss goals, financial goals, clutter-free goals, or even personal improvement goals.
In all these years, my staunch resolutions have never served me well, nor have they accomplished their stated purpose. And as I stand facing a new year, no resolutions in hand, I’m seeing that God has me right where He wants me.
A New Focus
This morning, my reading came from Matthew 6, and in verses 25-34, Jesus delivers beautiful, soul-refreshing words regarding our tendency to worry—and the utter fruitlessness of doing so.
After detailing the futility of our human bent toward worry, He ends with these words:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34 NIV, emphasis mine).
And herein lies the guide to the New Year for all of us: with Jesus as our focal point, we are bound to have a good year. With our hearts and minds fixed on Him, we are better equipped to make sense of the coming months and to maintain a steady constitution rather than being ruled by chaos or fear.
I love how Jesus lumps together “all these things” about which we fret. All these things we find important, all these things we prioritize, all these things we pursue … all these things that feel impossible and unreachable to us are nothing for Him.
All our needs.
All our desires.
All our hopes.
All our fears.
Our loving Heavenly Father knows what we need and graciously stands ready to meet those needs—provided we don’t elevate the gifts above the giver.
Seek Him first … it’s really the only resolution we need.
Your Best Year Yet
I don’t know about you, but this resolution causes that hope and joy I’m so desperately seeking to bubble up within me. I don’t have to be good enough, motivated enough, or organized enough, and neither do you. We just need to seek Jesus with all our hearts, souls, and strength and let Him take care of the rest.
As we face this coming year, I don’t know what burdens you’re carrying into 2016 or what new burdens might find you and me. I don’t know what your “all these things” are. I don’t know what breaks your heart, keeps you up at night, or sends your soul soaring. But I do know that the God who created you and created me has a purpose and plan for each day of this coming year. And even when your world feels as though it’s spinning out of control, He holds you safely, securely in His palm. I daily need to be reminded of this truth, and maybe you do, too.
There’s nothing wrong with goal setting and trying to better ourselves, so go ahead and make that list, follow that exercise routine, and clear out your clutter. But as we enter this year, let us not sacrifice the most important thing for a myriad of lesser goals.
In the grand scheme of eternity, there is nothing better we could ever do with our time than to seek Him first. May this be a resolution that we keep all year long—and here’s to your best year yet!