My hope is not in the New Year …

FAITH & REFLECTION -- In my personal experience, as well as interaction with others, I have concluded that many resolutions...

FAITH & REFLECTION — In my personal experience, as well as interaction with others, I have concluded that many resolutions, though well-intentioned, tend to be lofty, unrealistic and subsequently unachievable. If resolutions are working for you, then don’t let me rain on your parade and keep doing what works for you. However, (whose findings are more positive than most) reports that 25 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first week and more than 50 per cent have cratered by the six month mark. These unsuccessful pledges are often accompanied by self-condemnation and a sense of personal failure.

The new year does afford us the opportunity to appraise achievements (or lack thereof) and to re-evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the plans and goals that were established for the past year. I have usually found that my plans and goals for the previous year have been acceptable. I have simultaneously discovered that shortfalls relative to the goals are related to my not employing and/or deploying the plans.

I read about a hunt in England that was led by an expensive and well-trained bloodhound. The owner of the dog was elated as his hound began chasing a large buck. However, a fox crossed the dog’s path, and he began chasing the fox. Later, a rabbit crossed the fox’s path and the dog took off after the rabbit. The elated hunter pursued his bloodhound relentlessly until he caught up to him in the corner of a farmer’s barn … the expensive hunting dog had cornered a mouse. It’s easy to get distracted, isn’t it?

The apostle Paul provided some excellent guidelines for setting goals and staying on track. He wrote, “I forget what is behind and strain toward what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).

Paul’s purpose was singular, simple and straightforward. He had but one aim and ambition; to pursue Christ. Our goals sometimes falter and fail because they are too complicated and multidirectional.

Dwelling in the past has a paralytic and stalling effect. Debilitating sins or embarrassing failures may prevent us from trying again. Sharply contrasted, but equally unproductive, is dwelling upon past pride-producing achievements or accolades that hinder forward progress. Paul utilizes an intentional forgetfulness for both. He accomplishes this by looking forward rather than backward.

Paul metaphorically refers to himself as a runner in a race. He states that he is expending all of his energy in order to cross the finish line and win a prize. Plans will not be accomplished, nor will goals be achieved, without significant effort.

My hope is not in the New Year, but in the Lord Jesus who makes all things new.

Happy New Year!