I have a confession: I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. I used to. But they left me frustrated with a sense of failure. My desired changes for myself just tended to fall flat.
A resolution is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem”. Let’s face it, life is just full of problems and we need solutions. Our human response, especially as pull-up-the-bootstraps Americans, is to try hard to fix the problems. There are many problems, that yes, we can do something to create change.
But really. Is the true desire of our hearts simply to eat better, schedule a better routine, or exercise consistently? I think we really want something much deeper: Change deep within our hearts. That is a change we cannot create.
True heart change can only come from the Creator of our hearts.
It was just this past week when I realized I have not made resolutions in years. But I also realized it is because that beginning of the year tradition has been replaced by something far better: 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.
Actually, I do make one resolution on January 1st: I resolve to begin my year by seeking God intently for 21 days.
This is my eighth year beginning the new year with this practice. I am so thankful for my church and pastor that lead me to begin each year with an intentional focus on pressing in to get close to Jesus. Every year, God does something big in my life.
Every. Single. Year.
He gives me direction for the future, healing for my body, unfathomable peace in my soul. True change. At the end of the 21 days, I have clarity for my goals and purpose for the year.
Do you have resolutions for this year? Something you want to see change in your life? Rather than try harder, perhaps this is the year to skip the resolutions.
Instead of pursuing resolutions, resolve to pursue God alone and allow Him to change you.
The paradox is that you cannot just sit back and do nothing. You have to actually pursue God. Seek Him. Read His Word. Worship. Talk to Him. Stop everything else, even just for a moment, and be with Him.
In the life of a mom like me, there will be much opposition. There is always much to be done and people with valid need for our attention. But also, in the life of anyone in our culture, there will be opposition. Everything around us clamors for our constant attention.
Actually, in the life of anyone, there will be spiritual opposition to anyone who commits to pursuing God. That is nothing new. To pursue God, people throughout history have had to resolve to seek God in the midst of opposition.
That is exactly what Daniel did when King Darius, swayed by the leaders of the kingdom, issued a decree that no man was to make petition of anyone – man or god – besides the king himself. What did Daniel do?
“(Daniel) continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.”
Daniel 6:10b (NASB)
Even in the face of death, which he encountered first-hand in the face of the lions, Daniel resolved to continue praying in pursuit of God. That’s resolve.
Daniel’s resolve came because he had a plan.
“Three times a day…As he had been doing previously.”
Did you write down your plan yesterday? No? Me either. My plan was in my head, but I didn’t write it until Day 2. But there is power in having the plan written out before my eyes. That is one way I help myself stick with my commitment.
God told Habakkuk to record the vision and inscribe it on tablets. (Habakkuk 2:2) I don’t have any Old Testament tablets lying around the house, but I do have some nice spiral notebooks. Reading my old journals from my previous years’ 21 days is such an encouragement as it reminds me how much God has done. I highly encourage keeping a journal for these next 20 days.
Daniel’s resolve was supernatural.
If we are going to have resolve to passionately pursue Jesus day after day, despite interruptions, we too need supernatural resolve. We need to decide, commit, resolve. But we can’t do this on our own.
We must ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to follow through, to give us the power of resolve.
Write down your commitment
Yes, that’s it. Just write down what you are resolving to do for the next 20 days.
“I will meet with God every day (at this time) (in this place) for the next 20 days.”
Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep your resolve.
Oh, and while you’re talking with Jesus…Spend a few minutes telling Him how great He is!