I had a whole other blog written to send out on the subject of New Year Resolutions…then God grabbed my ear and redirected me down a whole other road.
I’ve made basically the same resolutions every New Year since I was probably in my early 20’s. I’m not gonna tell you what they are, cuz that’s my business haha Suffice it to say, they are probably no different than the resolutions you’ve made since your early 20’s (or whenever.)
There’s actually nothing wrong with making a resolution. After all, “resolution” is a strong word. Webster’s Dictionary defines it these ways:
• the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
• the act of solving
• the act of determining
• a formal expression of intent
Those are all good things to do in our lives. When things seem to be not working out for us, or not working the right way, we need to resolve to figure it out.
And why New Year’s Day? That’s obvi. Brand new years are brand new beginnings. A brand new year beginning can be a hook that we can hang our resolutions on.
But here’s the downside of resolutions. We usually make them inside our own hearts and minds. We rarely share them with anyone else. I mean, after all…what if we fail?? Then everybody will say, “Told ya so!”
Another downside of resolutions is that we think we’re coming at our past/failed resolutions in a whole new way…except we really don’t. Our resolutions are really all the same resolutions…in updated outfits.
So, while talking to God about how to address this subject, he blatantly and in my face brought back a favorite Bible verse of mine. In fact, I did a whole women’s retreat YEARS ago based around this very verse. It impacted me deeply…and since then, I’ve allowed the verse to pale into the background with all of the other all-too-familiar verses.
What’s the verse? I thought you’d never ask.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.”
Other translations use a “right spirit,” a “steadfast spirit,” a “faithful spirit,” a “new spirit.”
God very plainly told me, “LeeAnn, instead of making a resolution, I need you to make a renewal!”
Sometimes we don’t need new goals…we need new hearts.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are some vital goals that we definitely need to reach. One goal/resolution I’ve had for many years, I decided this year that I need professional, outside help to reach it. Is that weakness? Absolutely not! The weakest thing you can do is to think you’re strong enough to do it by yourself. Usually, we are NOT! And the strongest thing we can do is ask for help.
This year, I’m going to focus on renewing my heart. Strengthening my joy. Increasing my love. Expanding my service to others. To spend 87.361% more of my time focusing on other people and not on my own stuff.
Do you remember the situation in which David wrote those words in Psalm 51? King David had sinned some great sins: murder, adultery, covering up his sin, and a hard heart toward repentance. David thought he was large and in charge…all that and bag of chips.
But then the prophet Nathan had to call him on the carpet about his actions. And only after this confrontation did David come openly and honestly to God, in complete brokenness.
(I guess you could say instead of getting a “curtain-call,” David got a “carpet-call.”)
God was loving, kind and forgiving, as is His nature. In verse 2, David asked God to “blot out” his transgressions. In another version, it says, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
The idea of “blotting” is like erasing something from a page.
I love how a certain bible commentator puts it, when discussing this passage: “Out of thy debt-book, cross out the black lines of my sins with the red lines of Christ’s blood; cancel the bond, though written in black and bloody characters.” (John Trapp)
Throughout the following verses, David is pouring his heart out to God. He admits that his sins are always on his mind; he knows that he’s been sinful since the time his mother conceived him. But he also confesses that God, even while David was in the womb, desired faithfulness and was already teaching him wisdom in that secret dark place.
David wasn’t sorry he got caught; he was truly and deeply in agony for having hurt the heart of God.
Skipping to verse 10, David had no doubt that his sin had been forgiven; he knew for reals that God had cleaned up the heart he had. But he wasn’t satisfied with that.
David’s plea here is for a brand new heart.
In Ezekiel 36:26, God made a promise to all who believe: “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (NLT)
And beyond all that, David didn’t only desire a brand new heart; he knew that just wasn’t enough. So he also asked God to “renew a loyal, steadfast, faithful spirit within me.”
He needed a new spirit in order to keep on keeping on in the way of godliness. He was admitting that he wanted an humble reliance on his Father-God. Our heart can fail us…clean or not. And the best way to keep our heart as clean as possible is to make sure our spirit is renewed! A steadfast spirit is vital in keeping a cleansed heart clean.
So how does this apply to you and me, here on the 4th day into the new year of 2020?
If we make our utmost priority to renew our heart and our minds, to seek to be more loyal, steadfast and faithful to God, that is truly all that matters in this whole world. This year, no matter how much debt you’ll pay off, no matter how much money you’ll make, no matter how many bad habits you’ll kick, no matter how much weight you’ll lose…if you aren’t daily seeking God’s way of handling your earth-life, none of it will really matter much at all.
Is it a good thing to set those different goals? Absolutely! God gave us our minds and our bodies and our habits and our finances and our abilities and our relationships. We should always seek to honor him with how we handle all of those things. But the goal of drawing closer and closer to God, daily renewing our hearts and minds, will keep us spiritually balanced so that the other goals will take their right place and not become the overwhelming top priorities.
So this year, commit to renewing, not resolving.
And just see what God will do! You’ll be amazed!!!