Into a New Year
What are we taking into this New Year? Regrets about the past or renewed vision for the future?
It is a good time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. But so often our plans become broken resolutions. Most gyms, for example, report full lists in January and many even hire in extra equipment temporarily, knowing that by February they can get back to normal!
Perhaps too many New Year resolutions are based on guilt about the past and unrealistic hopes for the future. But is there a way of making plans we can stick to?
The prophet Jeremiah prayed “LORD, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” (Jer 10:23) It sounds to someone without a living faith like a depressing, fatalistic statement that we are driven by circumstances, or fate, or karma, or even by the hand of God (depending on a person’s philosophy or faith!). For some, it is almost like saying to God “You made me unable to please You so I can’t help but go wrong!”
But in fact the Bible gives us a hope-filled way of making choices and living. When we look at the whole of scripture we find that far from determining what we do, God allows humans to make their own choices. In fact that is the root problem with the world - not that God determines everything but that He respects our choices!
We also find He involves Himself in our lives when we invite Him to enter in and lead us. The very next verse in Jeremiah 10 invites correction from God, asking for help (Jer 10:24). If we ask for wisdom He promises to give generously: James 1:5. When we do this, He shows us a straight path (Isaiah 26:7). “The path of the righteous is level” not because there are no hindrances but because He walks the path with us.
Righteousness in scripture is less about a legal declaration of right/wrong, or guilty/acquitted, and more about being in right relationship with God and therefore with ourselves and with others. And when God asks us to do anything He gives us the power to do it (e.g. Acts 1:8).
So if we want to make good, sustainable plans for the New Year, let’s invite Him to lead us, to show us the way. There will probably be all sorts of challenges and opposition. Life is like that! And it is all part of us growing up to maturity in Christ. But our plans will have heavenly wisdom and we will have His presence with us to follow them through.
What better way to walk into a New Year?