The start of a year allows us to look at things with the idea of a fresh start. Some typical questions we ask ourselves at the beginning of the year: how can we be a better version of ourselves in the coming year? What can we improve on this year? What can we change? I was reflecting on the idea of resolutions, and how we put so much weight on these "changes" we want to make in our lives at the beginning of each year. When looking back on my own lofty ideas in the past as well as resolutions I have heard dear friends and family share, there was one clear theme that came to the top: order. Our resolutions are (almost) always looking at a part of our life we feel has become chaotic...and seeking a way to put it back into order. Our diet, our alcohol consumption, our home, our finances, our relationships, our exercise routines. It can all boil down to these things reaching a point of chaos that makes us feel uneasy, and we need to bring back the order.
And, wouldn't you know, I am going to spiritualize the heck out of this notion: this is us being exactly who we were made to be...image bearers of our Creator; image bearers of the One who brought order out of chaos in the very account of creation: He created laws we know as physics, and science we call biology and chemistry; He created all the principles of the universe so that it became discoverable, predictable and ORDERLY. And, in our design, we seek that order in all that we do.
And I want to encourage you, at the beginning of 2019, to look at your list of things to get back to order and reflect on truly what is driving this feeling. I want to encourage you to dig deeper than behavior modification, temporary and outward changes, and look into your heart and expose the part that is harder to bring to the light: why is this so chaotic? Why do we feel such turmoil in this part of our lives? These horizontals (horizontal being anything we interact with on this earth) in our life become chaotic when they are at odds with their original order...and when we lack in our vertical relationship with the Lord. When that vertical is in tact - when it is rock solid; when that vertical is being pursued - the horizontals become orderly. And not just externally and temporarily, but they are orderly because our heart is aligned with the One who brings order...and with that order brings peace.
I have found that when I am seeking that vertical and feeling the peace that comes with an aligned heart, this striving for change and order (that is impossible to maintain in our own strength) is given rest. An aligned heart puts this stress-to-change at ease because we realize that we can rest in the finished work of Jesus. It’s not on us to strive to bring order. It’s not on us to work harder...become better. He has done and is doing it every day in our hearts.
New years resolutions often fall flat because so often it is a focus on behavior modification and we fail to rest in the finished work of our Lord and Savior. That is why today (and day after day) I pray that - when I see those opportunities for a fresh start in an area (or several) in my life, it starts with a look up. I pray that it always starts with an evaluation of my vertical relationship and a thankful heart that my salvation doesn't depend on this change.