I am not a big New Year’s resolution person. I am not sure that I ever have formally made such a resolution. However, in pondering it over the past few days and weeks, I have realized that we are attracted to these, because they represent a fresh start, a new page, a re-boot.
Who doesn’t want that? At least on occasion.
The problem with resolutions is they tend to be based largely on willpower. Hence the ever popular variations on “eat healthier, exercise more, save more, spend less” resolutions.
Not that they aren’t good things to pursue. Not that there aren’t ways to successfully implement them into our lives.
(And frankly I hope to do “all of the above” in the coming year.)
But as I pondered, I realized that the things I want for the new year are mostly things that I want to let go of.
Things like regret. Bitterness. Frustration. Worry.
As I have been thinking about this, I realized that all of these have a similar component: control.
As in, I want to be in control of what happens in my life.
I think I know best how things should go.
If they haven’t gone My Way in the past, I experience bitterness and regret. “If only!” ”Why??” Self-blame (regret). Others/God-blame (bitterness).
If they aren’t going My Way in the present, I experience frustration and annoyance.
If only other people could do things they way I want them done, in the time frame I want them done. If only the circumstances of this situation were different.
I have ideas about how things should go in the future. And I worry that they won’t go that way. And then what will I do????
All of these responses and feelings are because I want to be in control. I think I know things, like what’s best for me and the people I love and the country and the world.
And not unlike our first parents, Adam and Eve, who, when presented with the option of trusting God or wanting to be in control of their own lives and make their own choices outside of his wisdom, chose the latter.
They wanted to be like God. Or, more accurately, they wanted to be God in their lives.
Why not that tree? It looked pretty good. Did God really say that? Does He really know what’s best for us?
Independent. Making their own decisions. Directing life the way they thought it should go.
I am no different.
And yet, in my more humble moments, I want to be.
I want to rest in the assurance that my life is held by Someone who has all knowledge, power, and wisdom. Who knows far better than I what is best for me. Who is lovingly crafting a life for me in which nothing is outside of his control.
Believing God’s truth of his word, and turning from the idol of control in my life–that is my hope and goal for this new day/new week/new month/new year.
It is not a resolution made on an arbitrary day, and then cast away by the next month. (Or at least, I hope and pray not.)
It is something that I have to pursue, to apply, to preach to my mind and heart and soul, every day, sometimes every minute.
I pursue it by reading the truth, the Word, the one who became flesh for me, who bids me come and feast on him.
Daily: in prayer and reading the Word, in the ebb and flow of the daily rhythm of work and rest and play.
Weekly: with his people, in his sacraments, in listening to godly teaching, in communing with one another.
Through the church calendar: Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Advent.
Yearly: through the changing-yet-the-same seasons, reminding me of his faithfulness, unchangeableness. His control and sovereignty over all creation.
Even me, and the little slice in which I live.
This is my resolution. Every day, and every day, and every day.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a control-worshipping sinner.
Tim Keller: “Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong.”
Paul Tripp: ”You don’t need to have control over people and situations because everything in your life is under the complete control of your Savior.”
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 Forthe Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.