I look forward to December 31 every year. It's the day I write down my list of resolutions for the coming year. I usually have between 10 and 20! Maybe you're like me, or maybe you tend to avoid setting goals, preferring to focus on one day at a time. In fact, it can feel like no matter the resolutions we set, we are inevitably forced into day to day survival, unable to reach towards anything at all except the end of the work week. The flurry of real life demands, stresses, commitments, and people depending on us can turn those well-meaning resolutions into dusty wishes on a shelf.
Why are resolutions so attractive, even when we know we may lose steam by February? I like to think they harken to a deeper spiritual truth. They are the result of a deep, almost subconscious awareness of our imperfection. As much as we may tell ourselves we are perfect the way we are, deep in our hearts we feel that we could be something or someone different, do more, accomplish more, be better. We feel an untapped potential to be the best version of ourselves. We are motivated by this picture of ourselves as successful, thin, more kind, more generous, more put together -- you name it. We are motivated by what we see for ourselves in our heart of hearts-- by vision.
We are motivated by vision. This is what marketing and advertising know, and have tapped into to sell us gym memberships, self-help books, you name it. For everything we see ourselves becoming, there is a product to get us there.
As Christians, I want to challenge us to set resolutions differently. Let's allow God to paint the vision we have for our identity. Let's make changes that agree with that vision God has for us, not the vision we have for ourselves.
The truth is, the vision of our ideal self is often tainted by what the world, our culture, our family, or our insecurities tell us we need to be. But those are not the forces that can paint the real vision for your life or your identity. Those forces did not create you with a plan before you were even in your mother's womb-- God did (Jeremiah 1:5). God formed you with a plan and a purpose -- and the word says he didn't just set you in motion and leave you. Instead, each and every day, each and every circumstance, is allowed and orchestrated by the Lord in order to shape you into your true identity (Romans 8:28). He is crazy about helping you become the person you were always meant to be!
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law."
The Message version puts it like this:
"If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed."
Let's not make the mistake of stumbling all over ourselves, never sure what we are supposed to be doing because we are never sure of what God is doing in us. Let's not waste our time becoming the "best version" of ourselves --instead, let's seek God's vision and wisdom to become the person He created us to be.
I invite you to ask yourself some of these questions along with me as we consider resolutions, goals, and changes in 2018.
What does GOD want you to look like at the end of 2018? Who does He want you to become?
What does God want to do IN you -- in your heart, spirit, and mind? The word tells us God heals, transforms, renews, convicts, and disciplines to sanctify our inner being to look more like Christ. Are you "on the same page" with God about areas you need to be more Christlike, or are there areas of your life and inner life that you are keeping from Him?
What does God want to do THROUGH you in 2018?
Have you surrendered yourself to be used by God anew in your home, community, workplace, church/ministry, and world in 2018? Have you "given up" on your witness in any of these areas? Have you given God full control over your money, friendships, work opportunities, social media accounts, etc. in order that He can witness through you?
What steps are you going to take to agree with the vision God has for your identity in 2018?
If you don't know where to start to seek vision about your identity in God for 2018, here are some easy steps:
1) Look at Christ. Jesus is our ultimate example. Read through the Gospels to gain more understanding of what Jesus was like. Pray, asking God to convict you and make clear to you any areas He wants you to be more Christ-like.
2) Pray how David prayed. In Psalm 139, David prayed "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." This is an amazing and powerful way to ask God what He wants to do in you. Spend even 5-10 minutes praying this way. Clear your mind and heart to be receptive to any response God wants to give, with journal in tow!
3) Review the promises and commands of scripture. The promises of scripture gives us a beautiful picture of our inheritance in Christ. The commands of scripture ("Do not be afraid!" "Do not be anxious about anything!" "Rejoice always!") also paint a powerful picture of our full identity in Christ.
Be encouraged -- God loves to reveal Himself to His people when they are seeking vision, guidance, and wisdom. It's a promise! (James 1:5).
God bless you as you pursue your identity in Christ in 2018!