Resolutions and sunfish sailboats have common frustrations. Both are nearly impossible when the wind blows contrary. Even with a steady breeze, whenever I’ve tried to skipper a sunfish, the sail collects more water than wind. I push the rudder down, hoping it will magically correct over compensation, only to watch the sail tilt too steeply…then splash! “grumble”…. and finally, ‘this isn’t fun anymore.’ Resolutions fit into that category for me as well.
Resolutions help me see progress on the long journey—in a perfect world. I’m not against them, only trying to see them for what they are; goal setting that helps me trust God for steps toward my dreams. The word resolution comes from the root word, resolve, meaning to decide firmly on a course of action. What happens between my firm intention and, let’s say, early March? The tilt of the sail, that’s what. I see a little progress, but then the firm decision inevitably gets mugged by the whirlwind,…lean…splash, grumble…quit. I’m speaking from a lot of experience in the water.
Today, I’ve replaced my resolutions with a single word that will help focus me to honor God and bring life to others. It will capture my deepest desires for personal growth, and pastoral service. The word, when placed into the center of my motivations, will become the rudder on the craft God will keep moving across the water awaiting me in 2015.
The way I see it, it’s about my spirit hearing something from God’s heart about how I can love Him, and others more deeply in the coming year. Resolutions happen in my head, and too often stay there. But if I choose a word that is born out of my deepest motivations, it can be a steady wind in the sails of all of my goals. Out of my heart, where the issues of life stem, I can allow that desire to infect all of me.
While reading this, has a word come to you?
Mine? Glad you asked.
I want to first listen to God, fine-tune my spiritual senses to hear the clues and invitations coming from the throne of grace. I want my familiar prayer times to be agitated by the Holy Spirit, so that I’m sent into the water time and time again. I won’t handle the rudder perfectly…I will splash..grumble…and then get back to the seeking of His heart. I want an infection of holy desire to permeate all of me.
I also want ‘listen’ to carry over into my relationships with others. My wife, children, friendships, and my work associates. My relationship with Christ is inextricably connected to how I love others. The clearer I can listen to God, the more self aware I become, and the clearer I see how far short I fall in real Christ love for my neighbor. “Slow to speak, quick to hear…Lord extend grace for that singular focus this year.
Have you chosen your word yet?
When you do, choose one that will help you grow out of strength, not weakness. Bounce off a tested track record, and let it drive you deeper.
Choose a word that fosters hope. The opposite of faith is not fear, but indifference. Motivation is everything in choosing the word that will direct your heart in the coming year.
Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” At the end of his life, Paul was able to summarize perhaps a few years of chosen words that he lived out under the grace of God, and through the Spirit of Jesus. “Fought,” “finished,” “kept.”
I don’t want 2015 to be the same as last year, so I’m doing something different this year.