Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Resolutions....do you make 'em?
Resolutions are one of our most sincere ways of looking forward. . . like a farmer who is riding high in the cab of a huge cultivator, we look to the front, not to the rear. The sixteen or so individual shovels of the cultivator are breaking up the ground in between the rows of plants -- they come pretty close to the plants themselves. Since that cultivator can do so many rows at a time, if you get "off kilter" you can do a lot of damage! So in order to get the job done, the farmer has to forget the area behind him, and keep his attention focused on what is ahead -- or that field will never get done.
Just like the farmer, and just like Paul in our focus passage, we need to leave the past behind: don't let it cause us to become complacent, and don't let it paralyze us from making progress.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at
my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus
took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet
to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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 3:12-14)
Paul's next tip for us as we make resolutions that can last is to implement a plan. He says he is "straining toward what is ahead." Wow! What a choice of words, there! He's not just working. He's not just trying hard. He is extremely focused: exerting all of his strength, will, and desires in order to achieve what he hopes for. Ever watched a relay race? The first runner is sprinting around the oval track, giving it all he has . . . the next runner is in his spot, cheerfully waving to the crowd, joking with his opponents, adjusting his shirt . . . Wait a minute. That's not the way it happens, is it?
The next runner is bent forward; every muscle is tuned and ready; his mind is on the runner approaching him; his eyes are on the track ahead of him; his hand is in exactly the correct position to receive the baton from his teammate and BAM!!! He takes off running!
Our plan, once developed, has to be held onto with great focus and intensity, because concentrating on our plan will help make our resolutions more of a reality, and keep us from being distracted.
Let's make our plans and set some goals -- let's keep some things in mind: First, will this plan glorify God? I Corinthians 10:31 tells us that "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." Now, we could have some truly admirable goals . . . we might want to exercise regularly, continue our education, spend more time in volunteer ministry with our church . . . the list can go on and on. And none of these goals is right or wrong -- the question is, will our pursuing (and hopefully attaining) these goals glorify our Father?
We can also ask ourselves, if our goal will make us more like Jesus. Since this is one of our primary motivations in our Christian lives, it's important to consider. We should also ask ourselves if our goals will make positive changes in our family, our church, or our community -- and one way to do that is if our goal will enhance our ability to witness to others. If we are going to exert ourselves, and focus on this goal, will it help us witness for Him?
Now, here is where the "rubber meets the road" so to speak . . . we've made some resolutions, and they have passed our tests, so now it's time to translate our goals into activities. If we set a worthy goal (or two or three) and then nothing happens, we haven't made any positive changes!
Let's say that our goal is to get closer in our relationship with God. Then an activity that will help us would be to read a chapter of the Bible each day before we start our day. Our spiritual health depends on our study of the Word and on our prayer life -- good investments to make each day!
Perhaps our goal is to spend more time with our children or grandchildren. An activity that would help with that is to help coach a team, or organize a crafting club, or find other ways to appeal to their interests.
If you set a goal of helping more with church, then perhaps a ministry team is an activity that will help achieve that goal.
If your goal was to help our planet that God gave us, then perhaps you will be more involved in recycling.
Sometimes we can even combine goals and activities, and achieve even more -- we'll look at that, next time!