We are accustomed to making New Year’s resolutions. The passing from one year to the next, the natural reflections we make on what we have done and how we have been that lead to aspirations for the future—inclines us to make resolves for the New Year.
Most of us, however, also have considerable experience with resolutions that go nowhere. Not only do we often fail to follow through with the resolutions we have made. We also tend to make resolutions that we know at some deeper level we will never keep. Often our resolutions simply reflect our regrets, disappointments, dissatisfactions, and wishful thinking.
This year it occurred to me that Jesus has certain resolves for us. We could, I think, fairly call them New Year’s resolutions. Here are a few I’ve been thinking about. I will put them in the first person.
I will be with you, no matter what. I came to stay, after all. In fact, I am Immanuel! Not was, but am. I am telling you that you will never find yourself alone or forsaken or forgotten. You may feel differently, for any number of reasons some of which you could never understand. But the fact is, I will be there, closer than words can convey. The world is visited, inhabited by the Holy. That includes you, and your smaller experiences of being in the world.
I will work my good plan for the world and for you. I am not simply there! I am there on purpose, for good reason. I am not without resources—having put the world together, having continued to sustain it ever since, having now entered the world and secured its final restoration and healing. Indeed, I am not without resources and I am committed to using them in ways that set up, enhance, and showcase what is good. All around you, within you, and through you! I will work. Period.
I know what you need and care more than you know. That is why I will work my good plan for the world and for you. So the good I will do is not impersonal; it is not generic “plug and play.” My good is targeted, personalized, interactively engaging with who you are right now, with where you’ve been, what you have done or not done, what others have done or not done, with the consequences of all those moving pieces and dynamics. Precisely because of those moving pieces and dynamics, it can be difficult to discern what the real need is and what will best care for it. Seriously, I’m not making excuses, just saying … . My good is targeted, personalized, and coming your way. It’s why I came and stayed; it’s what would get me up in the morning and keep me thriving all day long—if I ever needed to get up and if I weren’t already the very source of thriving!
I will not quit on you, no matter what you do or feel or think. Even if everyone else quits on you, even if you quit on yourself, I will not. I am not a Quitter; I am an Overcomer. You know only a fraction of what I have overcome; in some ways you know only the obvious things. An entire universe (which is way more than meets the eye) gone wild, careening toward chaos and disintegration could not prevail against my plan. When I said, “It is finished,” I was including all that was necessary for all the good I have planned for you.
While I will not and cannot choose for you, I can and will assist and support you as you lean into my plans, or as you fall into some pleasant places (which wouldn’t be really an accident, by the way), or as you stumble into hard and horrible places. Whatever … I am not only there, I am there to support and to help, directly and miraculously, and also through other people and circumstances.
How will you know? You will have to take my word for it; but you will see and sense as you take the risk, put one foot in front of the other, launch out, do or think or dwell upon the last right and best thing you knew to do, as you trust. Honestly, you will see and sense.
And, I will help you connect with others and the world around you. After all, it’s not about you. That is, it’s not only or even primarily, and most of the time not directly about you. What is good for you includes way more than you. That’s the way you are made, wired, and re-wired in my good plans. That’s the way most of what’s wrong in the world can now, on the strength of my own overcoming, be set right again. Your good is connected with that of others, and your and the others’ good connects with the world. This is an important part of what I meant when I said that you can never save yourself by trying to save yourself. You can only enter into the saving work I am doing, which is big and good enough for you and everyone and everything else. The happiest of my people hardly ever think about their own happiness, but often think about the happiness of others. I am resolved to help you find out how to bless others and experience my joy.
“Happy” New Year!