“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15, ESV)
It’s that time of year again. People everywhere are making plans to change their lives by adding to, or subtracting from, their habitual thoughts or actions. “This year will be different!” “This year will be better!”
And yet, resolve is a strange thing. Either we are committed to our plans, regardless the cost, or we are not. Either we continue to push forward when we have fallen back, fallen behind, or we give up.
For a long time now I have been the guy that doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions. I grew weary of watching them fall by the wayside as I plodded along through life, confident neither in my strength, nor, if I’m being completely transparent, in God’s ability to bring about a change in me. Too many failures in my formative years filled me with a dread of resolutions. If I didn’t say them out loud, or share them with anyone else, no one could see when I had given up.
But this year will be different.
I recently had a conversation with one of my pastors—a friend and mentor—about fulfilling the call of God that is on my life. I shared with him my passion for teaching, and my sincere desire to make my life count for the Kingdom. We discussed some ways in which I might be most useful in my church. He encouraged my to spend some time seeking God for discernment and clarity.
As I have done so, I’ve learned—beyond head knowledge—that my calling is entirely a matter of God’s grace and not because of any efforts on my part to somehow feel worthy. I understand that I can only share God’s grace as I have received it. I have dreams and aspirations that I believe come from God; and I believe that I should pursue them. Yet at the end of the day, my life is in His caring hands.
I am resolved that in 2020 I will “bloom where I am planted.” I will be faithful in the little things that I may also be faithful in the big things (Luke 16:10).
What makes this year different from any other? My resolution is surrender.
I cannot control my destiny. I wouldn’t want to. I have things to learn. Some things I will learn through good experiences, and some through difficult, but it is all of these experiences that make me unique, that open doors that were once closed, that allow me to share God’s grace with someone else who has had some experiences as well.
I am willing to use the great and not so great moments of my life to grow more fully into who I am called to be in Christ. I will use my failures in those efforts as opportunities to grow and see my successes as proof that surrender works.
Sure, there are a number of things that I would like to see happen in the new year. I’d like to devote more time to writing. I’d like to become a better photographer. I want to improve my abilities as an audio technician and as a leader.
God willing I will do some or all of those things. But the rubber meets the road at the place of surrender. Through surrender we acknowledge the sovereignty of God. We don’t cease to dream and make plans; rather we trust that God will lead us down the path we are meant to walk, and there we will find fulfillment beyond our dreams and plans.
It is my sincere prayer for you that you will find your fulfillment this year, too, in surrender to our most good and gracious Master, Jesus.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on the rest of your week and the new year to come!
Image from Pixabay