New Year’s Resolutions That Work

Billie Jo YoumansBy Billie Jo Youmans8 Minutes

Every January, many make a list of resolutions to help them achieve greater things in the coming year. Others don’t even bother, knowing that after a couple of weeks, the same old routine will emerge. I am in that group.

I stopped making “New Year’s Resolutions” a few years ago. Making a list of things I felt guilty about never changed me. Instead, I decided to get God’s perspective on how to live my best life and learned:

  • I already have everything I need (2 Peter 1:3)
  • God has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and
  • He also has prepared good works specifically for me (Ephesians 2:10).

That all sounded pretty great, but it wasn’t the life I was living, so I set out to find out what needed to change.

With God or Without God?

The first place I landed was a Scripture that many know and often quote: “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). That definitely wasn’t true for me – lots of things felt NOT possible in my life  – New Year’s Resolutions, for example.

Since I believe the Bible is always true, I asked God to show me what I was missing. Come to find out, I’d overlooked the key words in the sentence.

To succeed at all things, the first two words: “with God” are critical. I realized I often spent my days without God – well, not without Him but unaware of His presence. Forgetting God is present, willing and able to help me was limiting my possibilities.

God pressed on my heart a little more, pointing out that not only do I wander away during the day, I don’t bother to ask for His input in the first place. Often my prayers consist of telling Him what I plan to do – and pointing out what He should be working on!  It’s kind of appalling to write it out like that – but tell me, don’t you do that sometimes too?

Clearly, this was another obvious piece I’d been missing. Checking in with God and getting His direction protects me from myself and prepares me for the good works He’s already assigned to me.

Deep in my heart I knew why I wasn’t asking for His input. I tend to prefer my own plans. So, the question had to be asked – do I believe God has good plans for me? Do I delight in Him enough to want His plans to become my heart’s deepest desires (Psalm 37:4)?  I knew following my heart wasn’t always in my best interest. I’ve seen my heart be infected with bad attitudes, unhealed hurts, and worldly thoughts that created sinful desires. Other times I’ve been distracted by something good that kept me from God’s best. After honestly examining my choices, I resolved to trust His direction. I found Paul’s words helpful – maybe you will too.

“All things are lawful to me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful to me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Living my best life, means I have to WEIGH my desires against God’s Word – and stop rationalizing wrong attitudes and actions or justifying my wants based on the world around me.  In other words, I need to go into my day with God doing what God wants!

The Most Important Thing

I was excited by the clarity and simplicity of God’s instructions for living my best life, but none of what I saw was new to me. I wondered what I was missing that kept me from doing these simple things. Suddenly the story of Jesus’ visiting Lazarus, Martha, and Mary came to mind.

(That’s God, you know – when you are asking questions, and things pop in that reveal His truths – you should get excited! The King of Kings is talking to you!)

Anyway, when Jesus visited, Martha was busy being hospitable (cooking and cleaning and the like). She was miffed that her sister, Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet. When she complained to Jesus, He answered:

… “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Do you see what Jesus said is the most important thing of all?

Sitting in His Presence

It’s so simple I don’t know how I missed it! But I know I’m not the only one. Our world desperately needs the presence of God – and you and I are the ones who are to bring it!

When Jesus walked the earth, He performed miracles for the multitudes and poured wisdom, love, and righteousness into everyone He encountered. I want to be more like Him – I’m convinced that is what living my best life is, because:

  • It is God’s plan for me (Romans 8:29).
  • I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27)
  • Christ-likeness is God’s goal for me (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Without time in God’s presence, my best life remains out of reach! New Year’s Resolutions never changed me – but the presence of God sure does! Besides, a once-a-year reset isn’t enough for me…I need a Moment-by-Moment Resolution List. Here’s what I came up with instead of a New Year’s Resolution list:

Moment by Moment Resolutions

  • Seek to Feel God’s presence
  • Let His love and peace seep into me
  • Believe He hears and responds to me
  • Ask for His wisdom and perspective
  • Adjust my attitude and views to His
  • Trust Him to guide – and redirect me when I err
  • Remember His unending grace & mercy (for me & others)