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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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34

Monday 30th December 2013

The One Resolution that Can Change Your Year … and Your Life

resolve1 The winter wind has been growling every night, growling at the dark, slamming against the windows. Rattling the house. And rattling us.

This is the way the New Year might come for some of us. It can slam us hard. Rattle us to the bone.

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Before I flip the page on the calendar, the New Year reminds me of promises I made last year. And broke. Rosy self-promises can shatter into a thousand, metal-gray shards, weeks before the groundhog checks his shadow.

You know the ones–

How you promised to read the Bible in the year, but only made it 2 Kings. How you vowed to lose ten pounds but gained five. You may have even written it all down, making your pen a chisel. And a desperate prayer. How you wanted to write a book, run a 5K, serve meals to the lonely every week. 

God knows you tried hard, but life happened, and February came, and there were all these piles of dishes and laundry, and a parent who got sick, and legitimate excuses, and a teenage son who slams doors too hard, and too many restless nights staring at the slow whir of a ceiling fan.

And where did that list go again?  

The New Year taunts with a question: Do you even remember what you promised a year ago?

Every New Year stretches out in front of us — and most of us have no idea what’s ahead. The possibilities are endless in the coming months — countless possibilities of great joy or immense sadness. Which way will it all go? We don’t know what might derail our lives … or what beautiful surprises might sweep us off our feet.

Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed in to the batter, to make the pattern of our days. You don’t have all joy, all the time. But thanks be to God, we aren’t stuck with all sadness either. We need God, someone to thank in the good, and someone to lean on during the bad.

But it’s a hard cake to chew sometimes, this life on planet Earth.

The New Year will tell you that you can have your cake, and eat it, too. It will tell you that the real trick to a better you is to try harder, work faster, get skinnier, dig deeper in your pockets.

And while you toil, the New Year crouches out on the wind, waiting to slam you again the next time you flip the page from December to January.  You look at the pounds you didn’t lose, the debt you didn’t chip away, the cigarettes on your dashboard.

And you might think you’re a complete failure.

But this time? This time it really could be different. 2014 is a new start.

This year of new days? This could be the year we put the brakes on the shame, and let go of the anxiety about what’s ahead.

There’s a better way to a new you. It doesn’t begin with a list of promises you’ve made to yourself, but a list of promises already fulfilled for you. For you!

God made the resolution — to save a weary world — and He kept it. He’s the only God who keeps His promises, and then doesn’t require you to add to it — only to RECEIVE it.

Your resolution is the gift of Christmas, pouring itself out across your coming year. It is the one box on your to-do list that you can mark “already finished” before the new year begins.

You have already been equipped for the good works God has for you in 2014. These are good works designed with you in mind, not “good works” that the enemy might use as a scorecard to prove that you’ve failed again.

Resolutions, like laws, can try to make you obey. But laws and resolutions can’t make you good. You are good, because you are God’s. And because you are God’s, you are being changed in ways that you can’t measure on your bathroom scale.

What if we refused to let 2013 define us? And what if we refuse to let 2014 taunt us? 

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What if we said “yes” to the one resolution that can change our year and our life?

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This year, on the lined paper where I was going to ink my resolutions, I’ll write the name of Jesus Christ. He is my resolution.

You don’t have to try harder, friend. Your New Year promises can be more than resolutions. They can be complete revolutions, a complete turning around to Jesus and His already-finished promises, tied like a string around your heart.

Sure lose weight, if you need to. But rather than focusing on the number on the scale, maybe we could all lose the weight that is really dragging us down — the weight of guilt or the shame of our own broken promises, the weight of worry over the unknown in the coming year. “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up,” wrote the author of Hebrews 12.

Make your plans, but hold them loosely. The possibilities for your one beautiful life are limited only by the size of your God, who has great plans for you and has already resolved to carry you through them.

The wind may howl and growl in the pitch of December. But look east to the line where the earth touches sky. The very thing that is beyond your control? It is bigger than your fear, stronger than your own might, more effective than your best-laid plans. And it is rising, fearlessly, into your world —

Light.

 

  • jane williams

    Perfect words, sent through a perfected heart, from a perfect God. Thanks, Jennifer. I needed these.

    • Good morning, Jane Williams, and God’s blessings upon you as you enter the new year. Let’s do this … Let’s BE this: All His. Resting in HIS resolution toward us. Happy new year.

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    ah, beautiful. We are so on the same page, my friend.
    I posted early on FB today the very same heart beat.
    I love yours — so after His.
    Every blessing, sister…

    • Oh friend. Your post? So, so stunning. Falling FORWARD! Linked it in the sidebar. Loved this: “What if everyone else is making New Year’s resolutions and you just want New You solutions?”

      You are leading the way for so many of us, Ann. You and Jesus. My whole December was flipped upside down, like your Christmas tree. I am beyond grateful for your words, and “Greatest Gift” is informing my coming year. Upside-down Christmas is spilling over everything, as it should.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      I agree with you and Jennifer, here, Ann, and also loved your “piano post.” I’ve been to those recitals, and this is beautiful advice. And when we fall forward with Christ, where have we but to fall forward into His arms? God bless you and Happy New Year!
      Love
      Lynn

  • So very well said! “The possibilities for your one beautiful life are limited only by the size of your God, who has great plans for you and has already resolved to carry you through them.”

    • I have been such a “human doing,” rather than a “human being.”

      I need to continually remind myself to hold my plans loosely before God, to remember all that HE has resolved to do, … all that He has already DONE.

      Happy New Year, Eileen!

  • Chris

    I want my heartbeat to sound like this…
    Jesus!
    Jesus!
    Jesus!
    A perfect post for some people I am praying for today – and for me, too!

    • Oh yeah! Love the sound of that heartbeat.

      Kneeling with you in prayer, brother.

  • Kelly Greer

    Yes, Jennifer! This is where it begins and ends….”It is finished.” So thankful for you Jennifer and looking forward to 2014 and all that God has accomplished in us and through us according to his good and perfect purposes. To His glory!
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    • Secured. Finished. Not with our well-meaning lists, but with nails through wrists. Yes?

      You know what else, Kelly? On that Good Friday, it looked like it was finished. Like done. Dead. Kaput. Over. Hopeless. Finished in the most depressing sense of the word.

      And so, flip to the end of Luke’s gospel account, when those women go to a tomb with spices on a Sunday morning. They go to grieve over the sadness of that finality. Only to find a new and glorious ***beginning***.

      What in my life has looked so hopeless, so finished, … and I don’t even get what FINISHED really means? How finished might mean that a new door has been opened — like a stone being rolled away.

      I am taking spices into my new year, knowing that even graveyards are not places of finality.

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Joining you in the cemetery, Jennifer! For about a half year, God has been speaking to me about beginnings–NEW BEGINNINGS! And I get so disouraged (especially this time of year….I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s….I love the possibility of a tabula rasa, a new beginning, and yet feel so discouraged that the beginning is over–finished–before I start (because it so often is). So, what’s the use? And yet, I realize it is the Deceiver whispering his deathly December lies–breathing winter’s bone-cold blast in my face–because he wants me to freeze over emotionally and stagnate in stoic resignation–resigned to his dearth wishes for my life and God’s dreams for me. But wow! It’s he whom Christ has overcome on that cross, in that tomb, and I don’t have to doubt. Spring is always preceded by winter, sunrise is always preceded by sunset, and resurrection is always preceded by death–ALWAYS. And the life with Christ is always one of paradox. Tell me: Will you share your jar of spices? I think that there just might be enough to go around.

        You are so precious to me, dear lady. Happy New Year of Beginnings!
        Love,
        Lynn (and love to dearest Kelly too!)

        • Kelly Greer

          Hey Lynni….love this winter analogy…….life and death and life and death and life and death and life……
          New Year Hugs!
          Kelly

      • Kelly Greer

        “…even graveyards are not place of finality.” God is breathing life into the dead and hopeless things in my life and it started even before the new year began….I know 2014 is a year of more new beginnings and greater gifts than I could ever dream or imagine! Because he lives!

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Oh, Jennifer….light,light, light. It just IS. This touched me so deeply with tears of joy. printing this one out. wow.

  • Beth

    Oh sweet friend… so grateful for you. Beautiful!

  • Yes, this year, no promises only loosely held plans. No agenda, only an alliance to write only what He places on my heart.

  • I can do loose plans. And I sure do need Jesus to carry me through them. This had me tearing up at the start of seven-ish HARD more months. Thank you for your beautiful words that send me back to Jesus.

  • “Fear shouts who we were….love shouts who we are becoming” bob goff…I want LOVE to call me on…forward…to trust Him In the becoming….not trying to become… Like Ann said today..just fall forward… I am becoming to believe more and more…the more I / we know how incredibly loved we are by Abba…we no longer have to plan…strive…list our way to become…it is really more relaxing into His love and trusting love to carry us through…happy New Year friend!!!

  • stacey29lincoln

    Just the Word I needed today. Thank you for speaking Truth to my heart.

  • This is awesome awesome! Amen! Jesus is my resolution and I don’t have to work for Him – He already accomplished the work for me! Love this , Jennifer! Thank you, friend.

  • Oh Jennifer, these are the very words I needed to hear. I very purposely did NOT make resolutions at the beginning of this year. Yet still I had expectations, and as you say, life happened. And that feeling that I’m never quite enough though I so often speak “ENOUGH” to the ladies and girls that I teach. And at the end of a year, “not enough” feels like failure–especially as I look toward all the needs and to-do lists for the new year. Yet these words bring that LIGHT in the broken cracks of a weary heart…

    “You have already been equipped for the good works God has for you in 2014. These are good works designed with you in mind, not “good works” that the enemy might use as a scorecard to prove that you’ve failed again.”

    Thanks for never ceasing to speak truth and grace to us.

    Be blessed in your new year’s endeavors…
    sheri

  • Yes! Yes, Jennifer. He IS my resolution. Gorgeous, friend. And just what this girl needed tonight. Love you, lady. Happy, happy new year. May it be rich and sweet and filled with all the goodness of Christ.

  • Elizabeth Stewart

    Thank you for these powerful words!

  • Kim

    Beautiful words, beautiful images, beautiful thoughts! Thank you, Jennifer. Blessings to you and yours as we begin this new year.

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  • Woo!!! Yes! Abba has been saying the same thing to me. To get past the “I never”s and the “I should”s and just BE! Be His! Thank you for you words, dear!

  • Ginny Jaques

    I love this idea, Jennifer. It resonates with what the Lord has been saying to me. All we need to “do” to please Him is to “be” restfully available and instantly obedient. He will take care of everything else. As you say, it’s not about me, and what I do. It’s about Him and what He has done.

  • Ginny Jaques

    As further confirmation of what the Lord is saying to all of us, your thoughts are mirrored in my latest blog post on FEBC’s blog. http://blog.febc.org/faith/relaxing-gods-generous-love

    How good of God to give us this word at the beginning of what might otherwise be a very difficult year in this damaged and needy world.

  • Dayna DeLaVergne

    Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for this!! “…good works designed with you in mind, not “good works” that the enemy might use as a scorecard…”–EXACTLY what I need to remember! I wish I could express how much your writing helps me. But, you see, I’m not a writer. Just plain thank you.

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