Happy New Year! I have the honor of the first Morning Walk article in 2022. The twelfth day of Christmas has just passed, and it’s time to focus on the new year. We all want to be prepared for what lies ahead, so that we can capitalize on the positives and avoid the negatives. The time-honored tradition of resolutions is commonplace. Voices in the backs of our heads give us unease as we write them down, unless festive drink drowns those voices out. We get a slight feeling that this is wrong. I’d like to crystallize that feeling now, so that we can explain this to ourselves next year.
Perhaps the biggest alarm is the bitter truth that none of us expect to keep our resolutions. It’s a goal, we claim, one that we can never reach, but it’s nice to have it just in case. First, that’s not what a resolution is, by definition. You resolve to accomplish your task. Second, a goal that is annually never kept loses all weight, eventually becoming worthless. I suspect that this is what Jesus meant by “[D]o not swear at all… But let your statement be ‘Yes, yes; no, no,’ and anything beyond these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:34-37, LEB) Even if the only one with something to lose from your failed promise is yourself, your weakened confidence in yourself will dilute the times when you can achieve your goals, when that confidence is vital.
Think back on your resolutions. Losing weight, learning a skill, expanding on a pastime… How many of your resolutions affect exclusively yourself? Do any not? Self-improvement is a good thing, to be certain, but is it worthy of the entirety of your aspirations? How is your neighbor helped when you lose weight? How is your family helped when you take up or advance a hobby? Ambition is not in and of itself a bad thing, but it can ignore the people to which God leads you. Give care not just to think about yourself but also those around you this winter.
Even if resolutions had the best of others in mind, the very notion of future projections might be erroneous. Christ gave a parable about a man with a good yield. He promised himself that he would build larger storehouses and live a little more, but God took his life away that night. “[You] do not know the circumstance of tomorrow, of what sort your life [will be].” (James 4:14, LEB) Even a month from now, our lives and priorities might be vastly different from what they are today. The best that we can do is work in the present in advance of the future, not speculate about the future in the absence of effort. Do things because you believe they are good for you, not necessarily in advance of some far-off goal.
I have hopes for the new year, but I make no promises. God can pave the way for good times ahead, or He could set up new trials for all of us. Until I see them, I will continue in my struggle to live a godly life, a purposeful life. I hope that you all do the same.