I’m likely not breaking any new creative ground with this post today. I can only presume that across the blogosphere, many are projecting into the new year with plans, goals, ideas, etc. For the record, this is not a “resolutions” post, for two reasons. The first is that I began to write a resolutions post, with the intent of providing perhaps a different look at what that means, when it struck me that what I was typing sounded similar to something I had written before. A quick check confirmed that indeed, I did write it before on an old blog, then reposted it to this blog the following year. So, I’ll skip re-writing it, and link to my post “Resolved” instead.
The second reason is because there exists (at least in my mind) a tension. Projecting into the future brings to mind two different verses:
But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. – Isaiah 32:8 (ESV)
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”—14 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. – James 4:13-14 (ESV)
So, there is wisdom in making plans, and it would appear there is also wisdom in not holding too tenaciously to those plans. Fortunately, James helps me out, and reminds me that there is a resolution (ha, I’m punny) to the tension when he follows up with verse 15 – “Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” I have to be reminded of this every year – the actual tension is not between the verses, it is between my will and God’s, and since God says “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10, ESV) it would serve me well to joyfully submit to and accept His will.
The self directed counseling session has now ended.
All of this leads up to, what, if the Lord wills, I would like to do in the coming year. In the past, borrowing a page from another pastor, I have come up with goals for myself for the year, one goal for the number of years I have been alive. The pastor I learned this from has incredible self-discipline. He would say that writing out his goals is what makes him disciplined – my humble opinion is that it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I’m debating whether to take that approach to goal writing again this year. My success rate with that strategy is not very high, which tempers my enthusiasm a bit. For now, I’m putting forward (and public) just a few.
1. Embrace Christ more. I don’t mean more in a quantifiable sense, mainly because I don’t know how to measure that. At the end of 2014, would I be able to say that I embraced Christ 13% more than the previous year? By more, I mean, more than. If I’m going to be known for something, I want it to be that I put Christ first in everything, that He was banner flying over me, that Christ was my primary message. That could be a challenge for me because I have opinions on everything, and a willingness to share them, even if no one asks for them. But I want to make sure that what comes out of my mouth most of all is Christ, and Christ more than anything else.
2. Write more. I like it when you read what I write, and when you provide feedback in any form, I’m honored. You have lots of things to do, so you taking the time to read and comment is an encouragement to me. But my desire to write more is not so I will be read more. It is for me to sharpen my axe, so to speak. To be a better communicator, to develop cogent lines of thinking, to interact with the world around me in a thoughtful way. Writing appears to be a helpful tool in that endeavor. I’d like to get to the spot where I’m writing here on this blog at least twice a week.
3. Read more. This one I will keep to the age-number protocol. I am 38. I’d like to finish 38 books this year. Reading more will hopefully lead to writing more. For the record, the books I read to my boys will count; the books I read to my girls will not (they are still at Dr. Seuss level, and it seems like cheating to include those).
4. Run more. With all of the hopeful reading and writing to take place, I’ll need someway to either compress what I have read, or churn the rusty wheels of creativity. Beating the pavement with my feet, and subsequently, beating my body into submission, has proven to be a helpful outlet for that. Apart from running with my cross country team, I got away from running this past year. My mind and body give evidence of that layoff. I’m also up for another challenge, so, if the Lord wills, I’ll be running another marathon this year. I keep eyeballing the Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon on June 21.
5. Study more. I am toying with the idea of pursuing further education. Probably better to say I am deeply considering doing that. I have the school and program picked out. It would be a 4-6 year process, but it would be something that would have considerable (beneficial) impact/application for our church family, as well as for me personally.
6. Plan more. Specifically, plan more for my family. Plan more dates with my beautiful bride. Plan ways to give more gifts to my beautiful bride. Plan for both of those ahead of time. Plan to pray more with my beautiful bride. Plan to go through the Scriptures more thoroughly or systematically with my family. Plan more down time with my family. Plan to get away with my family (read that again – that was get away with, not get away from). Plan for more victories, plan for more trials. Plan for more hospitality, either in our home or serving someone else at theirs. Plan to see more of the goodness and greatness of our good and great God. Plan for all of that, while firmly holding to “if the Lord wills”.
I’m eager to see what the new year holds. I’m even more eager to see how God works in, with, and through me over the next year. The unplanned theme of this post was “more.” More than anything, I want to continue to be made more and more into the image of Christ. May God grant success in that pursuit.