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A New Year's Revelation

Pastor Josh Anderson shares his thoughts on New Year's resolutions and how we might re-think the annual tradition of trying harder to do better. It might come as a surprise to you that stopping something old can be just as beneficial as starting something new.

A new year can bring about a renewed approach to faith and life.

By Josh Anderson, Pastor of Connection and Formation

I hate to admit it, but I have a checkered history when it comes to New Year's resolutions. Making them. Breaking them. Cursing them. It's not pretty.

In fact, it's come to the point now where my weak defense to people asking what my resolutions are is a sharp quip, "I've resolved not to make any resolutions this year." Ha, ha. Funny.

I'm not proud of it, but I also won't hide from the fact that New Year's resolutions overwhelm, intimidate, and defeat me. Probably because I know myself too well. Come February, many, if not all, of my promised changes will have succumbed to my lack of discipline, or desire, or both.

This can all sound pretty negative, I know. But this year is different. Mostly because this newfound revelation finds its foothold in where last year ended—in the midst of a global pandemic that seemingly will linger on for many more months, even with a miracle vaccine on the way.

Trying Harder to Do Better

With all of that in mind, I've discovered something new about New Year's resolutions. A truth that has ruined any possibility of us getting along for more than a few weeks. And that discovery is this: so often I resolve to try harder to be better.

I must confess that I often succumb to human nature, which is to try and control my environments and the actions of the people around me. But if there is one thing I have discovered after having experienced the dumpster fire that was 2020, it's the hard truth that I am not in control. The unimaginable and oftentimes frustrating reality around me has proven as much once again.

Now, I could easily curl up into the fetal position and just cry. But then I would miss out on the incredible freedom of releasing my need for control only to gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing that God is fully in command. Dying to myself is the hardest and the best invitation I have been given through Christ. Only then can I come to rely on God alone as my savior.

Start by Stopping

God is not an impersonal puppet-master pulling the strings of our lives as we stumble around on earth. Instead, I believe Him to be all-loving, all-faithful, and all-knowing with a specific and wonderful plan to redeem me and the world around me. (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1)

So instead of trying harder to do better, I've re-committed myself in 2021 to trying harder to be better about pursuing God Himself. For me, that has resulted in creating a different kind of list. It's a "Stop Doing List". And it goes a little something like this:

I know myself too well to think that I'll follow through on all of these items perfectly throughout 2021. To be brutally honest, I've already failed. But that's the best part about failing in the pursuit of God Himself.

Because every time I fall down—not if, but when—I only have to look up and revel in the grace of our Heavenly Father. He doesn't need my perfect actions, He only desires a humble heart. And that is a resolution I'm excited to re-commit to in 2021 and for years to come.


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