Every year, millions of people all over the country make pronouncements about what they are going to do to be a better person or have a better life in the new year. According to most lists that I have read, the resolutions usually revolve around being healthier physically, being more spiritual, and being financially comfortable or sound. Most people appear to start well and with good intentions but then begin to flag by about February and give up by March. I got the bright idea a few years ago to make my resolution to never make another resolution and circumvent the whole process but I think that’s cheating.
The truth is a resolution can be, and I think is, a form of repentance. Since repentance is simply recognizing that you are going the wrong way and changing direction, resolutions are by definition a form of repentance. Maybe the problem with these goals is not that they are unattainable but that we have failed to put them in the proper perspective. The way most people treat resolutions there is an assumption of failure from the beginning. Many of us go into it with a wink and a nod, preparing to laugh off the whole idea as soon as it gets hard. We want the change but we aren’t willing to do the hard work to get the place where we are changed. So, what do we do?
We have to decide. We have to follow through. We have to keep going even when we are ready to quit.
The truth is, a resolution is much like repentance in that it requires not only a change of direction but a continual adjustment to and working toward that new direction. The Way of Life that Jesus taught was not something to stop doing when it got hard. It was not something that made allowances for other people quitting. It was not dependent on what other groups did or thought. It was steady and sure and required those who followed to be steady and sure. It was a day in, day out reorienting under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
So when you think about your resolutions remember, true resolution, like true repentance, is more than a declaration. It is repentance, reorienting, to the Way of Jesus.