Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Resolute Resolutions

With the New Year comes the prompting (or temptation) to consider new resolutions or, "goals," for ourselves.  Much discussion has taken place in the past two weeks via all media outlets regarding New Year's resolutions.  If you're like me, it becomes wearisome listening to all the talk and advice given about how to stick to resolutions and stay motivated.  It becomes very trite to constantly hear how we, as obese Americans, need to make, "weight-loss," our top priority (tell us something we don't know).  They go on and on about what the most typical resolutions and failures are--and we aren't surprised that, "weight-loss," is number one for both accounts (especially when the New Year comes after Thanksgiving and Christmas--ah hem).  However, I was surprised to see in a recent poll that 65% of Americans claim they did not make any resolutions for 2013.  I would have guessed that the majority of us did (or perhaps we're just not admitting it for fear of the admission of failure)! 

This got me thinking about my own resolutions--those from 2012, as well as those I've made for 2013.   It was both interesting and sad to me that my resolutions for this year aren't much different than those from last year.  I've concocted some typical, "surface" goals and some deeper, personal ones, as well:  I want to read my Bible more;  I want to be a light and witness for Christ more;  I want to love others more;  I want to lose a few pounds from all my Christmas gluttony;  I want to be less afraid of everything;  I want to keep up with my running and train for a few races;  I want to purge my home from unneeded clutter and tend to some DIY projects;  I want to stop being so self-deprecating and "supplicant," in order to view and speak of myself as a daughter of The King (a wise, true friend recently informed me of this needed change);  in line with that, I want to only seek to please God--not people;  and, I want to continue to work on my music and hopefully find myself in a satisfactory situation with it.  Not a great deal different than last year.  This realization was a depressing one at first.  I felt a bit defeated that most of those same resolutions were held for 2012, and that I once again find myself needing to reiterate them.  Then the really negative thoughts came:  no wonder the majority of people don't make resolutions.  It's the same old thing--over and over.  We just keep failing anyway, so what's the point?!

I prayed about this and my stinky attitude fervently that day.  Shed a few tears of frustration even.  After doing so, and just sitting and pondering it all in silence, I felt my Lord and Father, the Best Friend I've ever had, remind me of this truth:  that in our lives, diligence, maintenance, and repetitive faithfulness are attributes and requirements for success and true joy of any kind.  He reminded me that no one ever truly, "arrives" in life.  Even those at the top [of whatever their particular game] have to continually step-it-up and maintain their pace, determination, and focus or they will slip.  Things always need realigned in our lives and require repeated attention.  Some stuff we need to just give over to Him and get rid of it.  Anything good in life has to be maintained and given conscious hard work and effort.  No matter what our unique goals and personal needs are, we all have to "keep on keepin'-on" or the slippery slope will ensue.  Therefore, it became apparent to me that my resolutions for 2014 will more than likely consist of all those from 2013--and this is not only necessary, it is good.  We are basically given choices every day--we can be a fighter or a quitter; we can be a cheerful worker or a slothful sluggard; we can be consumed with joyfulness or fall prey to bitterness; we can be trusting or doubtful; we can be lovingly merciful or coldly unforgiving; we can have a heart of thankfulness or a jealous, ungrateful spirit; we can bask in hope or be ruled by fear; we can possess faith or be paralyzed by worry; we can pray with endurance for a dream or we can give-up in meaningless existence; we can look back with sorry regret or we can look forward with a renewed vision and purpose; we can look down or around at the difficult struggles or we can look up to our Father, recognizing His steadfast Sovereignty; we can be reconcilers or we can be dividers; we can hold-on to familiar hurts or we can let go and be finally free.  We have to make good and wise choices every day, every year, in order to avoid that slippery slope.

I am reminded of a funny quote I once heard. I cannot recall who said it, but I do remember that it was a famous female on a talk show.  She was discussing how easy it is to get up each day and be instantly defeated with her negative thoughts.  She said she has overcome this perpetual problem in her life by asking herself, as soon as her feet hit the floor each morning, "Okay.  It's a new day.  Am I gonna be a hot dog or a weenie today?!"  Love it.  That's essentially our choice.  Are we going to believe that our lives have purpose and act on that belief, or will we succumb to faithless fear?  Will we believe that even the monotonous, tedious tasks, from which none of us our exempt, truly do have value and meaning in our lives?  Will we choose to hear and believe the still small voice of God telling us of His love for us and of our great need for Him each day, or will we choose to do it our own way and in our own limited strength?  It never ceases to amaze me how much louder the negative lies in our ears are than the positive truths.  Why does the enemy [and the world] have to speak to us in a scream and the Lord speaks to us in quiet stillness?  I guess I know the answer to that:  truth and light don't come easily.  Nothing of eternal, real value does.  That's yet another daily resolution or mission that God gives us--seeking His truth and light.  And it, too, requires repetitive, hard effort.  

I also love the following quote:  Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says, 'Oh crap.  She's up.'  Great stuff.  Another wonderful quote, which I have used in a prior blog but that's worth mentioning here, is the one written supposedly by a man named, Frank Outlaw (however, it is often attributed to Gandhi):  Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions.  Watch your actions, they become habits.  Watch your habits, they become your character.  Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.  To be the kind of woman who the enemy fears, and who arrives at her destiny with a noble character, requires resolved repetition, diligence, and faithfulness.  To be the kind of Christian, wife, mother, daughter, and friend that I want to be is going to require resolute endurance and repeated hard work toward the same purposes, over and over.  It necessitates an accurate perception of the fact that we never "arrive" here on earth, because when we honestly think the day will come when we can stop working at things of value, we'll find ourselves disappointed and disillusioned.  We'll be inclined to give-up.  In looking up the meaning of the word, "resolute," I read, "Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering."  What a perfect way to view our resolutions in order to be the people we desire to be at our true, "day of arrival"--our only day of arrival.  The day we meet our Maker...the day we meet Christ. 

Great Scriptures for Resolute Resolutions (taken from the NIV):

Perseverance...
Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Ephesians 6:16-19, "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel"...
Romans 5:2-5, "Through Whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us."
James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:12, "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth."
Hebrews 6:11-15, "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, 'I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.' And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised."

Waiting on the Lord...
Psalm 37:7, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."
Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

God's Timing is Perfect...
Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
Colossians 1:11-12, "Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, Who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light."

Forgetting the Past...
Philippians 3:13-14, "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."
Hebrews 12:1-2, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Romans 8:37-39, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."