Well, here we sit at the end of another year—another decade! For many, tomorrow is all about opportunity. Resolutions. Goals. Fixes. Betterment. While the beginning of another year serves as a great moment to reflect and to resolve, the stats don’t lie. Look, I hate to burst your bubble, but research shows that in just two weeks from now, thirty percent of us will have abandoned our resolutions already. Another study indicates by the end of 2020, just eight percent of us will have achieved our goals. From my own personal experience, that seems about right.
What are we missing? Why is it so many of us fail at goal-setting? What’s the secret sauce we’re missing when it comes to achieving our resolutions? Maybe it’s because we’ve set unrealistic goals or maybe it’s because we’ve tried to go at it alone. Rob Ketterling, pastor and author of Change Before You Have To, wrote, “People don’t change because a known bondage is more comfortable than an unknown freedom.” Perhaps, as we sit at the conclusion of another year, you’re one of the 92 percent of people who failed a resolution. You’re obviously not alone, but something has to change. Perhaps the way we change has to fundamentally change. This year, may we not settle for good-intentioned resolutions but aim for God-intentioned transformation.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:18-19
God does not desire superficial change for you. He does not desire a change you can accomplish on your own. There is a deeper transformative work the Lord desires to do within you. There may be good things you resolve to do this year: be debt-free, spend less time on your phone, lose some weight, quit smoking, eat less sweets—you name it. If we achieve our resolutions without considering the Lord—without drawing ever closer to Him—then we have merely been driven by our good intentions rather than God Himself. Pastor Paul David Tripp cautions us, “A good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.” May we not settle for resolutions this year that have the intention of making us better people but not better followers of Jesus. Our goals cannot be to simply look wealthier, thinner, and wiser. We need to look more like Jesus.
Our goals cannot be to simply look wealthier, thinner, and wiser. We need to look more like Jesus.
Here’s the beautiful thing, though. As we become more and more like Jesus, we will, in turn, become better husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, employees, fill in the blank. Let us focus on Him and not lesser things. Psalm 27:4 records David’s prayer to focus on the better thing, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” One thing. The Hebrew word translated as “one thing” literally means the main thing or the very first thing. Throughout his life, David had certainly asked for many different things, but in this passage, David states clearly that if he could ask for only one thing it would simply be the presence of the Lord. All of his other desires were bound up in this single desire, and this single desire was set upon the things of God.
David isn’t content with a moment spent with God. He’s not looking simply to dedicate a portion of his morning or his week to God. No, David prays that all the days of his life he might dwell in God’s presence. When the bills continue to pile up. When health is failing and prognoses are bad. When the kids are screaming and tearing through the house. When Mondays bring the additional stress of a long work week. When you get cut off on the highway. When you’re two weeks in and feel like giving up your resolutions. It’s seeking and finding God in such moments. David wants to be aware of the presence of God in all moments. So do I.
Let me ask you: what sort of difference would it make in our lives if we were people with a singular vision like David? What if we could honestly proclaim—above all other things—I want to be in the presence of God? The reality is that with this one thing, all other things begin to fall into their proper place and perspective. As we refocus our attention on eternal things, as David did, it influences every other area of our lives. The lasting change we desire to make only becomes possible as our lives are brought into harmony with the things that matter to God.
When we only observe the possibilities of change but never actually make the change, we cheat ourselves. Friends, let us be a part of the eight percent this year who see change through. In a year from now, may people not simply see a better version of me, for then I will have settled for lesser things. No, may they see more of Christ in me. Happy New Year!
Author Note: This blog post is an adaptation from a sermon I preached in 2014. For more context and content, feel free to check it out right here.