The holidays are winding down, and we turn our attention to a new year. Many of us are hopeful that 2020 will be a year of health, success, and prosperity. Some are making resolutions to make it so. Resolution is a word that brings to mind a couple of others with a shared meaning. Resolve – a firm decision or determination toward a specific outcome and resolute – to make a stand, be steadfast and unmoving in commitment to a cause. Resolving to do something can sometimes be a good thing. It helps us set goals. When I was seriously injured by a grizzly bear while hunting in Canada a few years back, there came a point when I was lying on the floor of the rescue helicopter that I resolved to survive – to live to see my family again. God’s grace gave me the strength to see that resolution through and use the story of my experience to help others resolve to make positive changes in their lives.
Resolution is a word that brings to mind a couple of others with a shared meaning. Resolve – a firm decision or determination toward a specific outcome and resolute – to make a stand, be steadfast and unmoving in commitment to a cause.
But a vast majority of New Year’s resolutions aren’t kept. A lot of them have to do with diet and exercise, which require lifestyle changes that are often too hard to abruptly begin. Some have to do with business successes or improving relationships, but those often involve hidden variables that make sticking to a specific path toward an outcome difficult. But I think the main problem with many New Year’s resolutions is that they’re self-centered. We make them about us.
Measured By Eternity
Believe me, I know this is true. Before the bear attack, I was a successful businessman with a good home, a great family, and all the trappings of success the world associates with happiness and fulfillment. But facing death taught me that all of that could be taken from us in a moment and as my life hung in the balance I came to understand that all of the things I’d accumulated in life won’t matter a bit when I have to stand before God and give an account. Don’t get me wrong, my life wasn’t evil. It was just disastrously inconsequential when measured in the light of eternity, no matter how successful I was by worldly standards.
The bear attack changed my mindset to one that was less me-centered. I resolved to use the gifts and success God had given me to help other people. But first, I needed to make some changes closer to home by showing my wife how grateful I am to have her sharing my life. She’s the one who nursed me back to health through a long recovery from the injuries the grizzly gave me. And I have a greater appreciation for my children as well as I work to be the kind of father God wants me to be in their lives.
Making A Difference
I share this because we often hear people talk about “wanting to make a difference” in the world. Before anyone can do that, we have to recognize the need for change in our own hearts and homes. The Bible often mentions through stories the principle of cleaning up our own lives before we can impact those around us. The only way to really make a difference is to ask God why he’s put us here at this point in history in this place we’re at. That’s one prayer I can guarantee God will answer. We may not always like the answer because it may require some serious course corrections, but I assure you that following God’s plan for our lives will bring far more joy and fulfillment than trying to change the world by following a me-centered path. Do you want to have a better year in 2020? Here’s what I suggest.
Write down a list of goals and things you’d like to see happen in the New Year. Then pray over that list for a few days. Ask God to show you which things you’ve written down are aligned with His will for your life. As the Holy Spirit prompts you, add and cross off items on the list. Try to focus on what you’re good at (the gifts God has given you) and how you can use those to the benefit of others. Remember to ask God what He would like to see you accomplish in the New Year too. When our plans align with His, success is inevitable.
Look, change is hard. I know, I’ve been there. And don’t think I’ve arrived because God is still working on me. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m in a personal relationship with a Heavenly Father who does. And I now understand how important it is to put God’s plans ahead of my own. My prayer for you this New Year is that you’ll discover both the gifts God has given you and the ways you can use them to help others. Believe me, life is so much more rewarding when we’re less self-centered. As you think about this, I’ll leave you with a quote from one of America’s Founding Fathers who understood self-betterment in relation to those around us: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man.” Benjamin Franklin
Happy New Year!
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All scriptures used in this blog are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.