January 1st, the day for New Year’s Resolutions. The four major ones are of course, stop smoking, exercise more, eat better, and be healthier. Seventy-four percent of Americans make some sort of resolution on January 1st and are able to follow a form of the resolution until around the 23rd of January. That means that for three weeks people turn their face to the task and give it the old college try only to eventually surrender to their old habits. Now, not all people give in by any means, but a significant number find the task just too difficult, and when they give up on their resolution they have the extra burden of guilt added to their inability to stay true to their promise.
Been there and done that. I am a person who makes resolutions almost every year, but have the sort of personality that forgets about the resolution almost as soon as it’s made. I’ll be eating a burger and fries sometime around the end of January and suddenly it dawns on me that I had made a resolution to give up on fast food. Too late. Well this year is going to be different because I’m not going to try and improve myself through giving up something. Instead I’m going to try to improve my thinking by adding something to my life.
Most of us define our lives by incidents or events that impact us in significant ways. I remember when everyone was talking about defining moments in our lives. Those times when something extra-ordinary took place that had such an impact upon us that our lives were altered forever. Well, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I wish to do during 2018 is to try and understand my life as a unity and not a series of single events.
What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t want my spiritual journey to be altered or overturned because of an event that may happen on that journey. Let me illustrate from one of the great books of the Bible—Ruth.
1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.
2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.
4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,
5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.” Ruth 1:1-5
God gives us the big picture in these first five verses. There was a famine in Judah so Elimelek, along with his wife Naomi and two sons, migrate to Moab where there is food and work. At first things are good, but then Naomi’s husband dies and she is left to rely upon her sons. They both marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth and things seem to settle down until both her sons die. What had seemed like a bed of roses for Naomi now was a bed of thorns.
Hearing that the famine had broken in Judah, Naomi decides to return home, but she is a much different woman than the one who had such dreams in Moab. She says to her daughters-in-law, “No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
Later, she even changes her name,
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.
21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:20-21
Naomi, missed the big picture of how God was leading in her life because she focused on a tragic, terrible event and allowed that event to define her existence. But, if she had stayed focused on the big picture of God leading in her life she would have grasped that God had sent her to Moab because of Ruth who would become one of the ancestors of the Messiah. God, through Naomi, brought Ruth to Judah where she would marry Boaz and the rest is history.
This is my resolution this year, to try and see past the individual events that come my way and keep focused on the big picture of what God wants of me and how he is leading. It is true we can become overcome with despondency and grief and that can break our spirit. We lose focus and begin to question God’s leading, but if we see beyond the immediate problems and stay true to God’s leading we become stronger and more trusting in the God who leads us.
This is my resolution for 2018, to keep my trust in God regardless of the events of the moment. I wish all the readers and friends of The Beggar Danced a wonderful New Year with God’s blessings.