So all the champagne’s been finished, the party poppers have been popped, and the Auld Lang Synes have been sung.
And here you are on New Year’s Day, nursing that persistent hangover and dreading the work that’s waiting for you back in the office, but deciding first to get down to the key business for the day (and year): resolutions.
Except, you might want to reconsider doing that. Or, in a word, don’t. Just a bit of friendly advice.
Resolutions never work. They sound great and full of hope and vision and for sure, are born out of a super sincere and well-meaning heart, but…they never work. Believe me, I’ve tried – and failed.
It doesn’t matter if it’s something simple like keeping a diary, something that requires more discipline like eating less sugar or going to the gym more, or something that you’d always wanted to do like visiting your elderly grandmother more or losing that extra 5 kg.
Resolving to do anything at all will never work simply because it relies on our own self-effort and willpower.
It’ll inevitably develop in the following pattern: you start doing as you resolved to do initially, which makes you feel good, then sometime later something comes up that breaks your momentum or your efforts drop as you get busy, resulting in you feeling guilty and renewing your efforts for a time, before the cycle repeats and finally your efforts decline to the point that you just about forget your resolution or feel too guilty to continue. Or, in some instances, you never even start in the first place.
Don’t believe me? Just try this simple 3-week exercise, broken up into phases so you don’t actually have to go the full 3 weeks 🙂 :
Week 1 – Resolve to say no cutting words to your immediate family members or spouse for a week.
Week 2 (if you have successfully passed week 1) – Now resolve to think no negative thoughts about your immediate family members or spouse for a week.
Week 3 (if you have successfully passed weeks 1 and 2) – Now resolve to think no negative thoughts about yourself for a week.
It’s an all-or-nothing challenge, so if at any point you fail, you’re done and you need not continue. Feel free to have a go, and if you should succeed, you can go on your merry way with your resolutions for the year. Otherwise, you can always retrieve and read the rest of this post.
My encouragement and recommendation for you this year is simply: Learn to rest in the victory of Jesus.
Rest does not mean inactivity or simply lazing on the couch waiting for things to drop from the sky. Rest is an inward position, which will consequently flow into whatever outward activity you are doing.
If truth be told, most of our unrest or labour occurs in the mind.
We worry about that project deadline, or that big milestone we are coming to in 3 months’ time. We fret about how our children are getting on at school and whether they are prepared for their daily affairs.
We try to anticipate anything and everything that could become a problem in our lives and plan for whatever things the circumstances could throw at us.
You could be on a holiday with your family in the Alps or relaxing on a beach in the Whitsundays with your mind still whirring with thoughts and plans.
Conversely, you could be doing a lot of things – answering people, coordinating plans, and working through your to-do list – but all with a heart of rest, which often leads to you doing the right things at the right time.
Lots of hard work and mental labour results in a lot of sweat and stress, but is not necessarily productive.
Whereas when we rest in the Lord Jesus and what He has already accomplished for us, He comes to work in us, through us, and for us. God works when we rest.
And the kind of works that God does is always infinitely better than the kind of works we do.
Using the principle of rest as a psychological man-made tool to help us accomplish more won’t cut it – you’ll just end up with limited results. Only resting in Jesus and His finished work at the cross produces true rest.
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:9-12)
Jesus loves you. He wants to help you overcome that bad habit you’ve been trying to shake for years, be rid of that painful condition, enjoy better relationships and results at work and at home, and embark on that dream you’ve always had.
This year, let the one labour you do be to labour to enter into God’s rest that Jesus has purchased for you at the cross.
And as you begin to rest more and more in His total and complete victory of the cross, get ready to see and experience a year of increasing victory in your family, work and life!
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.