Someone once stated, “Men plan, God laughs” and looking back at your previous year, perhaps you can relate! My wife and I sure have had our share of trials at times these past few years; a couple of those trials even followed us into the following New Year. And while some folks are busily jotting down their New Year’s resolutions and planning every week for the next year, others are facing the upcoming new year AND new decade with the “same stuff, different year” philosophy. But just for an instant, a brief moment in time, if you look at your new calendar just right, you’ll see it; a blank slate, an empty page, a blossoming hope for better days ahead.
Sure, I’ve been one of those resolution driven individuals who would charge into the New Year touting remarks like, “I will strive to eat better” or “I will endeavor to exercise more consistently and get in better shape” or even “I will attempt to be the best version of myself”…whatever that means? Without some thought, planning and preparation, many jump into these resolutions and burn themselves out after only a couple of weeks. I’ve touted the first two “resolutions” and reflected below is a sampling of my personal experiences.
A few years (or so) ago, my wife and I joined Weight Watchers to shed some weight and generally feel better. I was doing pretty well, getting into the groove of eating certain foods that was considered healthy and, being a creature of habit, ate these same foods on a regular basis. On one occasion at our WW group meeting, I had a particularly good weight loss week, and so I was encouraged to share what I had been doing. Being rather proud of myself and that week’s accomplishments, I proceeded to share with the group what I routinely ate for breakfast. There were audible gasps throughout the group and I thought the one lady in the third row was going to pass out right there; it seems what I thought was normal and healthy for me had exceeded 98% of the group member’s point total for half the day! “You must have great metabolism” they said…whatever…
The other activity I would dabble in at times was exercise. As those of you who know me can attest, I’m not exactly the poster child for Mr. Olympia. However, exercise is the catalyst that helps me lose weight and keeps my health in check. I remember one particular early morning, dragging my carcass into the local YMCA to work out before work. I always began my morning routine warming up, most of the time on the Elliptical machine. As luck would have it that morning, the only machine open was beside the most perfect specimen of a human being. I’m pretty sure that he turned his machine on the “MEGA MACHO” setting for his sixty minutes of pure bliss, complete with a dumb bell in one hand, a power drink in the other, while pouring over a book in front of him. If he did sweat, I’m sure the one drop that dribbled down the side of his head smelled like Irish Spring. I, on the other hand, turned my machine on the desired setting of “NINJA TURTLE”. After five minutes on the machine, I appeared to have just completed an ice bucket challenge, for sweat was pouring from every pore. I swear I was getting stares like, “you ARE going to clean that area up, aren’t you?”…yeah, whatever…
Many times in our lives, we are railroaded into believing a misplaced opinion or criticism and it, well, gets us off track from meeting our goals, resolutions and/or dreams until they are never realized; they never come to fruition. We have to be determined to focus on the prize before us, to block out all outside negative influences if we want to see our hopes and dreams become a certainty. But here’s another train of thought; what if your goal/dream/hope was only a selfish want that should never have been realized anyway? What if that goal you’re spending so much time and energy attempting to birth is out of line with your needs or the needs of your family; more importantly, what if it’s directly out of line with God’s will for your life?
The hymnist, William Mote, penned the first few lines of his beloved hymn, The Solid Rock, which reflects how we must align our hopes, dreams and goals. “My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Once our hopes are based on God’s will and not our own, the future becomes so much brighter and a lot less scary. For if we truly believe everything we see, hear and read in the media, social media and print, from impeachment proceedings to rampant crime statistics, hope would scarcely be found. It’s only when we completely rely on God’s will for our lives, does our future shine with the brilliant hope of tomorrow and eternity; for even death itself doesn’t have the fatal sting when we are one of His own. Romans 8:23-25 states, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Yep, we can hold on to the hope of something greater one day; but for now, we have to be patient AND obedient to the will of our loving Heavenly Father.
Just one more thing to consider; we all go through different seasons in our lives. Just as storms come and go, even though the storm may be severe at the time, they eventually blow over and the sun shines once more. So it is with the situation you currently face; God may not remove the storm clouds from your life, but he’s definitely there beside you to walk with you through the storm. What a comforting thought that reinforces our hope for tomorrow as we step into a new year AND a new decade!So, what does your new year look like? Are you already frazzled from all the upcoming self-proclaimed goals, resolutions and deadlines you have laid out for yourself or are you going to listen and act based on God’s will for your life? My goal for this next year is to strive to nestle closer to the One who knows me best and loves me most. And perhaps my hope is to dismantle this annex I’ve built over time on to God’s temple; I know that is my physician’s hope as well…
6 thoughts on “Entering the New Year With Hope”
love this Steve! Happy New Year!
Thanks Kristen and Happy New Year to you and yours as well!!
Happy New Year’s Steve. You nailed it on the head with this blog. I was thinking myself of plans for the new year and where I placed my priorities; what I was going to do different this year than last. I landed in the same place you did. Working on the build of a firm foundation in Christ. As such, I plan to “Fast” from Facebook for a month and concentrate that time i was spending in the Word. Im hoping that’s a good first start of rebuilding that firm foundation that I might have lost sight of sometimes in 2019.
Have a great 2020!
That sounds like an awesome way to kick off the New Year, Sandy! It is too easy to get sucked up in the allure of social media; I think I’ll follow suit!! Happy New Year!
Love this, Steve! I’ve been thinking about the upcoming year, too, with my fancy, new name-brand planner and thinking I made a costly mistake in buying it instead of a plain old generic planner like I usually do. But this is my last year of working and I should go out with a bang! I can put all my Bible devotions in there and list all the times I exercise, yada, yada. I’m already feeling frazzled! Sounds like I need to take some of your advice!
It sounds like you already have it all figured out and so organized too! Happy New Year!!