By Bethany Riehl
Deep breath and…exhale. Whew. We made it to January 2023.
Magazines are a funny thing. As I write this to you, we’re on the cusp of all of the Christmas craziness. My calendar is filling up with events, my pantry is full of ingredients for seasonal treats, I’m in the thick of my soft caramel season (I sell them to a handful of very loyal customers – one calls me her “dealer”), and my quiet mornings are frequently interrupted by my mischievous cat playing in the tree.
But! Once this magazine is in your hands that will all be behind us, and we’ll be standing in a new year – twelve months of possibility stretched out ahead of us.
Which, of course, leads me to think about resolutions. Do you make resolutions? Are you tired of hearing about them already?
I do make resolutions, but only half-heartedly. I seem to know myself well enough to know that “sugar only on weekends” sounds glorious after a month of too many sweets, but by Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s a different story.
Indulge me while I tell a seemingly unrelated story. I promise I’ll circle back.
Recently my daughter was babysitting and in the closet of the playroom, she spotted a ukulele. She plays both ukulele and guitar so, knowing she could entertain the five-year-old with it, she tuned the instrument and strummed a song. He excitedly took the ukulele from her, twisted the tuning pegs so they were all perfectly straight, and tried to play a song, too.
Of course, instead of a beautiful melody, all that came out was the thump, dump, whump of an out of tune instrument. He bemoaned that he couldn’t make it sound like she did and when she tried to show him that he’d taken it out of tune, he insisted that the pegs needed to be straight. He liked it better that way. She shrugged and told him that his music wouldn’t sound right, then.
It reminded me of something our pastor had shared with the kids during an Adventure Club meeting recently. He was sharing what it means that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
He explained that the way God breathed out His Word was through the work of the Holy Spirit. He then showed the kids an instrument that only works by blowing into it. The authors of the Bible were the instruments and God’s breath worked through them. I loved the analogy so much and can’t stop thinking about it.
Now, the canon of Scripture is closed – complete – and we should question anyone who tells us they’ve heard any new revelations from God outside of the Bible. God is not breathing out new words or new Scripture, but we are no less instruments in His hand, to do with as He pleases.
Which brings me back to resolutions.
It occurred to me that, while it’s worthwhile to have goals and plans to be more organized, healthy, successful, or whatever the case may be, is that the song God wants to play through us? Or are we turning pegs in the way that seems right to us but can only result in a clamber of noise rather than the Lord’s symphony?
Are we trying to make our lives better for our benefit or to glorify Him?
Instead of focusing on eating a specific way to alter our figures, what if God would rather we focus on a habit of fasting for the purpose of prayer, devotion, and spiritual discipline?
Instead of a goal to read X number of books this year, what if we choose to sit more deeply in a handful of books that will grow our relationship with the Lord?
Instead of using the first hour of the day to catch up on the news, what if we curated a habit of reaching for the Bible before anything else and sitting with the Savior, listening to what He has to say through His Word every day?
What if we didn’t sign up for new podcasts or programs to develop productivity, but rather practiced our daily routine in silence, to allow our minds to breathe instead of constantly filling them with more and more information?
What if we took walks with the intent to pray and meditate on Scripture instead of being entertained with audiobooks?
What if instead of curating new hobbies, we use our free time to serve the local church body more diligently?
What if instead of a goal to eat at home each night to save money, we focused on inviting people into our homes more often and serving them good food and hearty hospitality?
What if the idea was less “me time” and more “God, my time is in Your hands”?
Of course, none of the things that typically make the resolution list are wrong or sinful. And it could be that the Lord will lead you or me into new habits and goals to overcome slothful behavior or to glean off of a hectic, unhealthy schedule.
My point is, instead of striving to be better according to our own desires or in the eyes of the world around us, what if our goals were focused to be more holy, more Christlike, and more determined than ever to be pleasing to the Lord?
Sometimes that’s just not as exciting to write out in a new bullet journal, is it? Holiness takes longer to notice than a slimmer waistline. It’s also not a plan we get to be in control of – that’s entirely based on obedience.
Finding joy, contentment, and purpose in life – which is the point of resolutions, no? – is a lofty goal, a good thing, and pleasing to the Lord. But, Christian, let us be sure as we bring our plans and purposes to Him, that we hand it all over, submitting to where He sets the tuning pegs, knowing that our Creator has better plans for us than we could ever have for ourselves.
As the Baptist Catechism says:
Question 2: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 16:11; 37:4; 73:25-26; Isaiah 43:7
Bethany Riehl lives in the Treasure Valley with her husband, three kids, and one super chill dog. She writes articles and fictional novels when she can, and her one desire is to point others to the love and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Her books can be found on Amazon or at your local library…after you request them to be in stock, of course.