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As I sit down to type this, 2019 is merely hours away. There is something exciting about a new year, the concept of a fresh start, a clean slate, doing things differently. Yet, there is nothing magical about the transition from December 31 to January 1 each year. According to a January 3, 2017 Business Insider article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Reality is that your life (and mine) is not going to be all that different tomorrow or next week or next month, from what it is right now. While making resolutions and gritting one’s teeth determined to make it work, this time, can perhaps have some noble intentions, the reality is that the more we focus on ourselves and make a list of laws we must keep in order to be successful, or be happy, or whatever our bottom line goal is, the more we will fail.
I see my life differently these days. Not just on December 31, but every day. Goals are important, having a direction to move in is important, but I know full well it is not possible for me to live these goals, this direction, perfectly. I am not here to become a better me, I am here because God placed me here. It is that simple.
In the Tanakh (Old Testament) there are so many laws. Religious Jews have added to these laws with the The Talmud consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah refers to the oral law that, according to tradition, was given alongside the written Torah. The Gemara is rabbinic commentary on the Mishnah. 613 laws to follow! That is a heavy weight to bear!
Now I am Jewish however I am not simply going to point out the Jewish law, look at Catholicism or actually any organized religion and you will find an endless list of dos and don’ts, religious practices, traditions, rules, requirements, how tos.
But hey, God is sovereign, He created each one of us, He knew we would each go our own way. Isaiah 53:6 “We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us.”
Who is the “he” in “his prayers”? In context with the rest of the Tanakh, it is clearly the Messiah, our savior, the One God sent to save us from ourselves. You can read The Big Picture of this concept here.
I see my life differently now because I seek not to focus on myself, but to focus on God. I have been sick with Flu type A and then a secondary infection of bronchitis since this past Wednesday and I will say it has been a rough bout of illness. I never before was a fan of the flu shot, after this experience, while the flu shot is not 100% against every flu virus, it certainly is more protective than going without. Considering how physically horrible I have felt and still feel, it is very easy for me to default onto the pity pot. But God. Through all of this there has been such a strong reminder from Him that while of course this illness is not His perfect will for me at this time, it is His permissive will. He is allowing it for His purposes, the multilayered, multifaceted purposes that they might be. Does that make me angry at Him? Not at this stage of my life because I understand the meaning of the word sovereignty. God is in complete control of every molecule of existence, out there and in here. My definition of good may not be His definition of good but He knows the full scope of a situation meanwhile I know just my own little corner of it. And in focusing on God and that for whatever reasons He is allowing this situation, I have been able to relax and listen, despite the cough, the pain, the exhaustion, and hear what God has to say in many different areas. Not that I am enjoying this illness at all, but it has actually been a really special time.
So on that note, I wish you a happy new year! May you grow deeper in the knowledge of God’s grace, wherever you are on this journey called life.
The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. However, you know as well as I, although there can an incredible feeling of freedom and newness associated with the thought of a blank slate, a fresh start that a new year is, calendar wise at least, there is absolutely nothing different that occurs between December 31 and January 1. Why is it too that most new year’s resolutions fail?
Scripture does not discuss resolutions but it certainly contains wisdom related to them. A new year is a terrific time to stop for a moment and contemplate your current day life and ponder on the direction you are considering for your life over the upcoming year.
God does tell us to plan. Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of a diligent man lead only to advantage, whereas every hasty one hurries only to want”, Proverbs 24:27 “Prepare your work outside and make it fit in the field for yourself; afterwards you shall build your house.”
At the same time He also reminds us that He is ultimately the One who is making the plans, Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord prepares his step”, Psalm 37:23 “From the Lord a mighty man’s steps are established, for He delights in his way.”
This includes how life unfolds and the desires in our heart. Psalm 37:4-7 “So shall you delight in the Lord, and He will give you what your heart desires. Commit your way to the Lord, and trust in Him and He will act. And He will reveal your righteousness like the light, and your judgments like noon. Wait for the Lord and hope for Him; do not compete with one whose way prospers, with a man who executes malicious plans.”
So, the vision, the overview, the thoughts on the direction of our life for this next year… ask God. Truly seek Him, read the Bible, walk out your day to day life, humble yourself to check your thoughts and ideas with what His Word says. And then as He places the thoughts in your mind, and as you check these thoughts out with what scripture says, He will stir you to action, and propel you in all the ways only He can.
Although it is something that may take some getting used to, it is the most freeing, exciting thing to seek God and then let things flow! I pray for you to be blessed in the journey this new year, 2019! To God be the glory!