New Year’s Resolutions
by Hank Bahr
December 31, Thursday – Psalm 46, 48; 1 Kings 3:5–14; James 4:13–17; 5:7–11; John 5:1–15
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
Vince Martin and I have been friends since childhood. We were Cub Scouts together. We played football together. We talked about our dreams of the future together. He was my Best Man at my wedding, and I was his. While the years and distance have lessened the intensity of our friendship, we still call each other on our birthdays. On my fortieth birthday he called me and said, “William Henry, you know all those things you were going to accomplish by the time you were 40? Relax man, it ain’t going to happen!” We laughed. I can’t help but feel that God laughed too.
This is New Years Eve: a time for planning for the next year, and looking back on last year. The readings for today all include some form of planning. Solomon knows that in order to lead Israel, he must plan. In order to plan, he must have Wisdom. So, Solomon asks for Wisdom (probably should have asked for God’s guidance with the Wisdom!). In the Gospel reading, the cripple has made plans for years on how he is going to get into the pool when the water stirs, only to be “out planned” by others near the pool.
James’ letter doesn’t beat around the bush but gets directly the point. You make plans for tomorrow, “yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14). Life (and God) has a way of cancelling, or at least changing, your plans.
Now, I don’t believe God is saying, “don’t plan.” I do believe He is saying “Put ME at the very center of your plans.” Plans without God at the center have a tendency to be self serving and idolatrous, and therefore doomed to failure.
Go ahead, make your list of what you want to accomplish in 2016. Then, pray over it. Ask God if this is what He wants you to do. Listen to what He says. By the way, does your list include improving your relationship with Him? Yeah, it’s a little scary, but we need to be sure that our faith is in Him and not in ourselves (our lists).
“THY KINGDOM COME. THY WILL BE DONE…”
Image by Bekah (used by permission via Creative Commons).