How many new year’s resolutions have you broken so far?
A calendar changeover often spurs us to take stock of our lives and strive to improve. Yet despite good intentions and valiant efforts, we often keep those promises only a short while before we fall back into old habits or give up in exhaustion before reaching our objective.
Fortunately for error-prone humans, we have a God that delights in forgiving old sins and creating new lives.
“Remember not the events of the past, the thing of long ago, consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the wilderness I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NABRE).
While we often get distracted by daily cares and let our resolutions go down the drain, we can always count on God to keep his promises to us.
“The promises of the Lord are sure” (Psalm 12:7a).
“He will shelter you with his pinions, and under his wings you may take refuge; his faithfulness is a protecting shield” (Psalm 91:4).
“His mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every generation” (Psalm 100:5b).
“The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The Lamentations verses may have been the inspiration behind the classic hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas O. Chisholm and William M. Runyan. The song’s chorus says, “Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
Among the usual resolutions of losing weight or exercising more, perhaps we should consider spiritual objectives such as spending more time in prayer or Bible study, increasing church attendance, taking on a service project or just practicing more kindness toward others. If our desires are sincere, God will provide the tools we need to press ahead.
“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them” (Ezekiel 36:26-17).
Making resolutions is not a bad idea. Consciously or not, we set goals daily, even if it’s something as minor as driving to work and back without having an accident, washing the dishes, coaching the kids’ soccer game or watching a certain TV show that night.
One key to setting goals is to make them realistic. Praying for an hour each night may be difficult for most people, but everyone can at least say a table grace or pray for five minutes at bedtime. Making a mission trip may be out of the question, but volunteering one hour a week at a food pantry might be doable.
Start small, and when that goal has been obtained, you will feel empowered to expand your outreach. God will reward your efforts.
In a previous column, I asked readers to share their favorite hymn or Christmas carol. Send your name, hometown, the song title and why it’s meaningful to you to the email address below. We’ll run your replies as space permits.
Carpenter has a Master of Divinity and is a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church. Reach her at email@example.com.