As I write this, Valentine’s Day has dawned. It’s dark outside. In Broward County, it’s even darker. Darker than it ever has been, perhaps. But I find myself not wanting to talk about one more school shooting. Nothing’s going to change until we change, and I weary of throwing pearls before swine, as the Bible would say, by telling others that Jesus is the ultimate answer to crime and how we react to crime, only to have my words barely make a drop in a vast sea of distress.
That’s not to say I shouldn’t keep megaphoning God’s truths – and I won’t. It’s just to say that on this 14th day of February, a day that was supposed to be filled with love and was instead darkened with hate, I choose to be still and know that God is God and hope others will follow suit. Perhaps then we could hear God well enough to know what the next right thing to do is … and do it.
What I’ll talk about instead is our New Year’s Resolutions and how they’re going. And by that, I mean how we are most likely failing.
If you remember, I made a goal of reading one hundred books this year. That’s two books per week, save for the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, because no housewife sits down and reads books during those weeks. Welp. We’re on week six, and I’m on my 11th book, so I guess I’m doing fairly well, especially considering I have two other books I’m working on, bit by bit, that will add up sometime throughout the year to be, well, duh … two more books. I’m more of a wordsmith than a mathematician …
Never mind. I had to google how to spell m-a-t-h-e-m-a-t-i-c-i-a-n.
I hang my head in shame.
Anyway, the reading challenge has made me feel as though I’m running a brainy marathon. It seems I rarely have a spare moment to just zone out because if I’m not talking or cooking or cleaning or entertaining or watching The Crown, I’m envisioning all the words that I could be reading being flushed right down the commode.
Read, you fool! I tell myself. And usually, I don’t have to tell me twice because so far, the books I’ve chosen to read have panned out as either delightful, easy, fun, spiritually enlightening, convicting, or page turning — with the exception of one, in which the liberal author thought it a swell idea to (unbeknownst to me when I bought the book) sneak in what I like to call Obama politics. So, while I count the book as having been read, because I did read well over 250 pages of it, I didn’t finish. That’s just me following the advice I was given once that said if you loathe a book, put it down. Don’t waste your time.
But I spent $6.98 on this literary work!
That’s what my heart cried. But my reading sessions became farther and farther apart, because while the dog in the story was very endearing, the social aspects of it were stressful. The characters were not even a little endearing, save for (maybe) the dog’s owner. Everyone else seemed mean and/or dysfunctional, or just snooty. A few were portrayed as evil, because (gasp!) they owned a gun, and of course all gun owners are up-to-n0-good-slime-balls.
Well. I do hope Bailey got back to her owner. I assume she did, since the plot was almost exactly that of the movie Homeward Bound, which my children watched every day for twelve years in a row. If you’ve read A Dog’s Way Home, do let me know how it turned out for Bailey. I loved her. Just not enough to stay tuned and figure out whether she made it home safely, I guess. Maybe I’m a slime-ball after all.
Bad, bad, bad.
Do your research, always.
My other resolution, which is a bit wrapped up in reading one hundred books is to read the Bible all the way through in chronological order. On that, I’m behind. A failure, really, which likely tells you where my heart is: more inclined toward fancy, fictional stories and theories of men rather than God’s stories and theology. I’m sorry. I get stuck every year in Exodus or Leviticus, and I get discouraged, and then I start hopping around in my reading in an effort to keep me awake and engaged, and then I get lost and even more discouraged and it’s a downward spiral from there. It’s at that point that I curse whoever put together the daily reading list. Granted, I still read my Bible, but it always ends up being in an order I can tolerate, rather than in some order someone has inflicted on my mind to torture me in strange and subtle ways.
What do we do when we fail at reaching our goals? I don’t know that there’s a pat answer. Maybe for you, picking yourself up by your bootstraps and disciplining yourself to go on is the answer. Churchill always said “If you’re going through hell, keep going”, and it seems to me that a good number of our resolutions are self-inflicted hell.
No more chocolate for me this year!
To the gym, every morning by 5:30!
I’m going to lose 120 pounds! And sixteen inches of belly fat!
You have to ask yourself, I think, Is this goal reasonable? Attainable? And if you find out it’s not, adjust. One hundred books isn’t all that reasonable for me. I know when Spring arrives, I’m going to have less time than I’ve had the past few months. Yard work and other outside projects will take precedence. So my goal is one hundred. My resolution is not. I don’t really make resolutions because frankly, I think they’re prideful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. ~Prov. 16:9
In my view, a resolution is more concrete. It says I will do this, no matter what. A goal, though, is simply something to aim for, but leaves room for the redirection of steps. For God to say, You know, this is My plans for you today. Adjust. The only thing I should be resolved to do as a Christian is to “no longer linger”, as the old hymn says. To no longer be charmed by the world’s delight, but to strive for things that are higher, things that are nobler.
Of course, what that means is that I need to make sure I read my Bible. But if I choose to skip around the sixty-six books within the Book? All hell will not break loose. And if I slow down enough to catch the meaning, rather than fly through it just so I can say I’ve read it in a year, but as a result get nothing out of it? Then I’ve made the right choice. I’ll get it read. Whether it’s in chronological order or read in fifty-two weeks, who cares? If I wrote my Scot a love letter, would I want him to slow down and read through as though it’s written by someone who loves him? Or would I want him to read it in five seconds flat, just so he could say he read it?
Whatever your resolution or goal is, be determined – but flexible. You’re going to get more out of it if you’re not so single focused. Enjoy life! Obey God. And if you’re running down or over those you love in the process of attaining your goals, or flat out ignoring your people, don’t keep going. You’re creating your own hell as well as other people’s hell, and that’s not what Churchill meant when he admonished us to keep going through tough times. The big idea is not to keep going like a steam roller, not caring who or what you flatten. It’s to keep going in whatever God has ordained for you.
Have your plans. But be willing to forfeit them for your King.