2018: A New Year

New Year’s Day represents something powerful in the Western psyche. We love the idea of a fresh start, a second chance, hope, and the idea that this year might be different than the last.

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newyear2018_24-dea0cc09d9b756a44574e87b010b6115To be honest, I am beginning this year simply grateful. On December 29th, my absolutely amazing dad had a serious heart attack. Though I will spare you the details, I sat for an hour or so waiting for a text/call from my mom (dad had been care-flighted and mom was driving that way) that might mean I never get to see his face, hear his voice, or say “I love you” again. I will never forget those 60 minutes. Due to God’s providence and an amazing collection of factors, not only is my dad alive, but even better, his heart sustained NO permanent damage. I would share more, but it is too personal and I am still processing through some difficult emotions. This year could have been so different. I am thankful. I am so thankful. I love my dad who has always been such a tender, strong, Biblically-grounded, inspiring, persevering, visionary, encouraging, hard-working, responsible, present, and trustworthy man. Yep, that about sums it up.

We we are weeks away from our little girl being born. We will then have one son and one daughter! I have no idea how I will juggle family, work, and a full-time doctorate, but there is no point trying to figure that out. Not possible. One must be thrust into a situation before they can know how to arrange the beautiful parts. For now, I am working hard to get ahead on my Ph.D. work (if there is such a thing as getting ahead). Worrying about the future is not fruitful (though I can be quite good at it). Jesus said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)

New Year’s Day has come and gone. It goes without saying that there is nothing particularly magical about a specific day. That being said, New Year’s Day represents something powerful in the Western psyche. We love the idea of a fresh start, a second chance, hope, and the idea that this year might be different than the last. For some reason, it is at the beginning of the year when we Westerners are willing to let our hearts dream a little, consider an alternative future, and relinquish at least some of our skepticism.

For this reason, this is usually the time when we all make insanely impractical resolutions. Setting goals, especially if you have someone holding you accountable, can be really helpful. It may be time to lose weight, implement a discipline in your life, enroll in school, ask for the raise, exercise, or plug into your local church in a meaningful way (instead of being a useless bump on a log). In a word, it is a time when we pledge to be more intentional in one or more areas of our lives. Sadly, most people are not very intentional.

Making resolutions is not an intrinsically bad practice, but it may not always be useful either. I think Christians should go about this cultural practice a little differently. What if the majority of your resolutions were birthed out of prayer? In other words, your resolutions are something that the Holy Spirit is already committed to realizing in your life. Granted, I don’t think every resolution has to be of this nature, but I am absolutely convinced that hearing God about the upcoming year is the best recipe for Kingdom success (not just success), personal growth in Christ, influencing neighbors and co-workers for Christ, seeing a relationship restored (God may tell you to take the first step), stepping into the freedom of Christ, forgiving someone, or taking the risk you have been scared to take.

So make the little resolutions and strive to improve. That is great. But take time as an individual and a family to pray, seek God’s face, hear his voice, and make resolutions that not only have eternal value, but are backed by God’s word and his specific vision for your life.

Happy New Year! Let’s begin the year as we ought to begin each day: seeking God. Only his will and desires truly matter.