2017. A year that looms before us unknown and sweet with expectations. It’s exciting to think that we have no idea what this year will bring. Many of us wish to find something new to fill the void in our hearts this year; a new person, a new hobby, a new figure. Many of us see this New Year as an opportunity to become the person we’ve always wanted to be. The person who spends time regularly with God, who invests more in other people, or actually gets on that workout regime.
But we face a problem as we hastily throw down resolutions after resolutions on notebooks and random scraps of paper. We face the problem of reality. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when 2017 has just begun. It only takes a minute to look out at the gray and snowy January day for you to lose the hope that you had to complete the task. So why do we fail? Why do we forget about achieving our resolutions by the time March rolls around? Why do we not become those people that we hope to be?
I think that the answer is rather simple. We are set on being someone new instead of becoming someone new. From the minute our glasses clink ushering in the New Year, we are set on being this “new version” of ourselves. Maybe for you that meant being less selfish, gossiping less, or being a better friend. Maybe you hoped to find contentment, to increase your spiritual life, or to help out your family more. These are all great plans, but we must remember that nothing comes easily in life. Process is everything. We need help. We need God. We are broken and damaged shells of people. We are not our own.
In the Bible, we see story after story of characters undergoing trials and joys on a journey that would lead them to who they were ultimately designed to be. They didn’t just wish that God would use them in big ways, they took steps to put God’s plans into motion. Think about the story of Paul. He had a major transformation, yet he didn’t become God’s vessel to the Gentiles overnight. He probably was scared to death and afraid, just like many of us. Luckily, God can take our brokenness and weaknesses to be used for His strengths. We are able to read book after book of Paul’s spiritual and personal trials to see how he learned to depend on God above anyone and anything else.
Or let’s look at the life of Peter. When God first called him to be a fisher of men, did he become one of the main leaders of Christianity the next day? No. Face it, he was just a smelly fisherman that was curious and maybe even a little bored with his mundane life. But he took a step. He gave God the opportunity to shape him and make him into who he was intended to be. By letting God see his heart, his loves, and his failures, Peter became the man who was the rock of the Catholic Church. Do you think after the rooster crowed he was thinking how powerfully God would use him in the lives of others?
Just know that you are not alone in trying to improve yourself but falling short. You are not alone in having great intentions that you couldn’t quite keep. We live in a crazy busy world. We spend our days racing from work to the gym to our quiet time to dinner to trying to squeeze in an episode of Netflix, all while trying to maintain 8 hours of sleep. Our eyes are bleary from the all-nighters we have pulled. And we find ourselves putting on more activities, finding new hobbies, maintaining more friendships, and having less time for God each year. Have you ever stopped to ask God what desires and plans He has for your life? To ask Him how He wants to use and shape you this New Year? Maybe that’s where you need to start.
And then we face the question of what are the best resolutions? Thanks to social media and modern blogging( haha) we find that every publication, friend, and parent has an idea of what we should be working on this New Year. So we find ourselves up to our ears in self-help books, crazy weight loss solutions, and “read the Bible in a year” plans. All seem to promise that we will better ourselves, be someone different, and become who we always wanted to be just for signing up for their newsletter. That’s not true.
The only person who knows what we need to work on, what sins we need to improve, and what idols we need to kick, is God. Have you asked Him? Maybe this year He’s calling you to give up a bad habit, maybe it’s leading a Bible study, maybe it’s joining a ministry on your campus. But it could be as easy as smiling to everyone you pass on the sidewalk, or talking to that girl who seems lonely in your humanities class. Whatever it may be, I urge you to spend time prayerfully asking God what He has in store for you this New Year. Every year has its fair share of ups and downs, but by having God as your constant companion, you can be prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Over these next few weeks I will be introducing different resolutions I have for the New Year for you to either join in on or to ignore. This New Year, I hope to find ways to not be someone different, but to begin the process of becoming the woman of God I have been created to be. I want to become more content, unplugged from social media, expectant, intentional with others, and more serving. Now, none of these are easy tasks that I can complete overnight. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you any quick tips to become these things in 10 minutes or any cheats. My only offer is to dig into these issues using scripture and to start a journey that most likely won’t be completed in 2017. Because we shouldn’t be striving to become better just for 2017. We should be trying to become the person that God will say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” to at the end of our lives.
So are you ready to become a better kingdom server for God? Are you ready to stop making resolutions and start making changes? God is ready to guide you through this uncertain and unknown New Year, all you have to do is ask Him to lead the way.