What’s in a date change? Beyond some business and personal fiscal year change (particularly tax year) stuff – the change from one year to the next is little more than the turn of a page on a calendar (or the putting up of a new calendar).
Yet we have made the year change into something bigger – though maybe with the wrong motives! The calendar change doesn’t by some miraculous action “close out” any pains or griefs you experienced the year before (in this case, 2018). The page turn doesn’t suddenly set you up for some grand spiritual “breakthrough” as some are posting. And the changed digit in the year designation does not somehow give special powers to some grand and optimistic “resolution” you might make to undertake any number of changes (weight loss/health improvement, financial renovations, relationship adjustments, etc.). But the flipping of a number does give us an opportunity to reflect on the past year – to give an honest evaluation to where we have been, where we went, and where we are today – all in preparation for setting our eyes every more on the goals, aims, and purpose GOD has set before us in the new year.
But let me begin with a caution – don’t set some unrealistic goals and resolutions that you won’t keep! You are simply adding to the burden society and the world in general throws at you and you are setting yourself up to fail – and year-after-year, what have the countless “resolutions” done for you? For most people, these repeated failures have done little more than to add defeat and disappointment.
I would propose a different tact this year as you begin trying to look forward to this new year: Focus on the LORD. In Mark 12:30, Jesus responded to a Scribe who was questioning Him on which was the greatest of commandments with “…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.” The focus of God’s commands all go back to giving everything to the LORD – and trusting HIM with what comes. It’s the spirit behind Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
One of the most difficult parts of life we face doesn’t’ come from the outside world, from those we work with, or those in positions of authority and leadership. No – among the most difficult parts to deal with are those set up by our failure to heed these words! We don’t place God at the very top and unquestioned position of priority in our lives. Because of our low view of God, we don’t “trust in the LORD with all our hearts” – we trust in “ME” – until I fail… again. Then we seek those in which to place blame, or even worse – we mess it up then blame God! But what do we actually see here in this passage? An incredible promise made when you quit relying on yourself and our own (in)ability to grasp the whole picture and to actually make good judgement in directing your path – and instead you acknowledge HIM in ALL your ways: acknowledge isn’t just naming or giving God credit, but literally means to KNOW Him – an intimate, close, life-changing, life-directing relationship with HIM where you are constantly seeking HIM and His will in everything you do. Thus bringing a promise that if we will quit doing it “our way”, quit trying to be masters of our own fate – and simply seek HIM in all things, in all ways – He WILL “make your paths straight”. What is a straight path here? It simply means that He will – just as we can see over-and-ver in the conquest of the Promised Land in the book of Joshua – when Joshua and the people committed everything to God’s will and plan – they experienced 100% victory. When they deviated from God’s direction -they often stumbled and suffered greatly. And in every single time – when they completely sought God’s will and followed it – God always delivered – and He still does today! We just have to realize that HIs answers and direction may very well run contradictory to our own desires and opinions!
Life is a minefield – and God has not promised us a smooth, explosion-proof journey. He has promised to direct our paths and to guide us IN that minefield. But sometimes we are in a minefield to make a difference for others – especially those who have deviated from God’s path and stepped on those mines! And lest we forget – helping people (truly loving our neighbors) can be a dirty and messy endeavor! But if we are there WITH God – following God with everything in our being – trusting HIM and HIS way over our own – He will see us through, and ultimately – see us Home!
So – regardless of what your flesh and culture are telling you to focus on in 2019 – or the resolutions that you may be mulling around in your brain – how about being resolived first and foremost – in truly KNOWING the LORD as never before, fully trusting in HIS grace – and following HIM in all things as He directs your path!