The new has come
New Year’s resolutions! I’ve been one to make time at the end of a year to plan for the upcoming year and set an array of written goals across areas of my life.
As I look back over the years, I see waste of a huge amount of time thinking, setting and writing all sorts of resolutions and goals for a new year. And, if I’m honest about it, many of them went by the wayside within the first month. Some, a very few, did remain important to me and I stuck with them. So, a number of years ago, I resolved not to make any New Year’s resolutions – a bit weird that, making a resolution not to make any resolutions!!! Rather, I considered I would simply focus on each new day and go with the daily flow God planned for me.
Yet at the start of 2017 I was at it again, writing 6 resolutions – or intentions, as I called them then. At the end of December I reviewed the year that was and my achievement was one from six – not a very good average.
But the year was not wasted – far from it. Encouraged by the words of Isaiah to “Enlarge the space for your tent” [54:2], I undertook to broaden my expectations, have bigger faith, awaken the sleeping giant within and unleash my God-given potential. By the grace of God that was most certainly achieved.
Now, once again a new year has begun and each new day represents new life, new beginnings. My wise companion on the journey, St Paul, encourages, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” [2 Corinthians 5:17]. Paul also says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth”. [Ephesians 4: 23-24]
A new year, new creation, new things, new self – how blessed we are and how generous is our loving God. These words offer real meaning as we face a year that will present new challenges, new situations, new pressures, new possibilities and new opportunities. It could be extremely difficult if we have to face these challenges alone. The good news is: we are not alone!
Pope Francis states the Christian life is a constant journey made of hope, made of seeking; a journey that, like that of the Magi, goes on even when the star momentarily disappears from sight. Trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Jesus never disappoints. Never.
Putting our trust in the Lord is the way to enter this New Year. But, does this mean Jesus will do it all, that there is no need to make resolutions or plans? Well, if Jesus is the motive for all we do today and every day … there is a REAL partnership; and a partnership means that the partners will do their share. So yes, we need to contribute, and planning is a way we can. It also takes ACTION.
It helps to know that Jesus was a planner. He knew where he was destined to go and “resolutely determined” to make his way there [Luke 9:51-52]. He knew how he would enter the holy city of Jerusalem [Matthew21:1-10] and even had a plan for where and how his disciples would celebrate their final Passover meal together [Matthew 26:17-19]. Everything that Jesus said and did was part of God’s grand design. Jesus’ primary concern was to do the will of his Father [John 6:38].
St Paul, the great encourager, says: “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in faith and brings it to perfection …” [Hebrews 12:2]. With the desire to do the will of God, planning is best done in-Spirit – invoke the Holy Spirit, then pray, plan and discern the will of God for the year ahead. Pope Francis urges us to aspire to great things; enlarge your hearts; do not settle for small goals.
With this encouragement, what does that mean for my New Year resolutions for 2018?
I’m called to the grand adventure of feasting on the mystery of God, which means I will continue to focus on today, living today more fully and in service to God, create more actively and be more engaged in the present moment. I’ve already broken my resolution not to make any resolutions! This year I’ve called it a Dream List.
What are your plans for 2018? Ask God to guide you today.