A few years ago, I was asked to preach on a particular Sunday that just happened to fall on New Year’s Eve. Determined not to preach the same old year-end message, I turned to the Lord for guidance and inspiration. Not only did he come through with the inspiration, but he cast a vision on me that changed my outlook on New Year’s resolutions forever!
Think this through with me. On a typical year, we approach New Year’s Eve 5 to 8 pounds heavy, having just spent the last few weeks gorging ourselves on the holiday over-abundance (I admit, I usually lead the charge). As we look ahead to the new year, there is a certain amount of guilt and a general fear that we will not be able to reverse the damage that those cookies have inflicted on our mid-section.
New Year’s resolution #1 – lose 10 pounds (or 15 or 20… you fill in your own blank). All other resolutions for personal improvement, family matters, career or educational goals fall in behind that big one.
January 1 comes. We think, “I’m going to be unmovable. My goal is set. Healthy, light breakfast… check! No morning snacking… check! Healthy lunch…
check!” Then, out comes the cookie tray with all those leftover goodies. “One won’t hurt.” So, we go ahead. Maybe tomorrow will be better. It is not. By January 3, we’ve pretty-much blown it and we’re back to that old normal self we’ve always been, only this time carrying that extra weight. We feel defeated. So much for the resolution.
Wow. That was pretty depressing! What if there was a better way?
Instead of making resolutions this year, what if we were to pray about the vision God has for the year to come. What if we were to take a look at December 31, 2019 (that’s right, I said 2019) and ask ourselves, “What do I want to look like at the end of the year? What do I hope to have accomplished?” What if, rather than make year-beginning resolutions, we set some year-end goals? With the end as the goal, set-backs are not permanent failure, but rather a bump in the road on the way to success.
Child development author Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” That quote was the God-sent catalyst that caused my annual vision-seeking to permanently shift.
Using weight loss as an example (because that is perhaps the number one new year’s goal for most people), let’s say in the first month of the year, you were to lose 5 pounds on your way to 10, but you had a big weekend and really fell off the dietary restraint wagon. In the resolution model, all is lost. You’ve broken the resolution and you might as well give up. But in the year-end visionary goal-setting model, it’s a minor set-back. I may have gained 2 pounds over that February weekend, but I’m still 3 pounds better off than I was on January 1. Let’s start today to make that new ending. This time however, I don’t have 10 pounds to lose. This time, I only have 7 left! Hope is rekindled and we get back on track.
If we could apply the wisdom of the apostle Paul to the situation: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14). But wait, there’s more! “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (vv. 15-16, emphasis mine).
When we have a set-back, all is not lost. We are responsible to live up to the level we have already attained and we can now start over to press on toward that year-end goal. Forget about that mistake. It’s in the past. Start today and press on! How refreshing.
May the Lord inspire you toward a great 2019 and may you find success at meeting your year-end goals. I will be praying that my readers will find inspiration and motivation in Him.
Happy New Year!
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