Many people make plans at the start of a new year. It is a commendable thing. Even the Bible encourages it. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (ESV). A new year often comes with new hope to make things better. For us believers, consider the following four things as you make your plans:
- Diagnosing the root of a problem you are trying to overcome is more important than diagnosing the effect of the problem. E.g. getting late and disappointing people is an effect. To make a resolution to be on time is not enough. Seek the root. Why don’t you keep time? The root is most likely because you don’t value time. Ouch! Roots are painful to admit. But you won’t change if you don’t admit a problem’s heart. Deeper diagnosis could show that the root is that you are self-absorbed and entitled and therefore believe that everyone who is on time can or should wait for you. Deal with roots and you will get new fruit. Tip: Keep asking the obvious question “why” until you get to the bottom of the barrel.
- Consider reviewing your identity. What is the source of your feeling accepted, affirmed and appreciated? A poor identity cannot have a worthwhile year no matter how much it plans. We often look to non-eternal things to grant us identity. Jobs makes us feel important. Romantic partners make us feel loved. Children make us feel accepted. Money makes us feel safe. Beauty makes us feel validated. Knowledge makes us feel useful. If your identity is on these temporary/ non-eternal things, you will falter the day they are threatened. Jobs are threatened by pandemics. Spouses are threatened by difficult seasons in marriage. Children are threatened by growing demands. Money is threatened by expenditure. Beauty is threatened by time. Knowledge is threatened by competition. Your identity is far too precious to be pegged on non-eternal things. There is good fortune for the fact that Christmas comes as the last holiday celebration of every year. Christmas reminds us that the most valuable eternal entity (God) has become a man in being born as Jesus Christ so that we can be in relationship with Him. The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God. Christ was born as a gift to die for your sins. Christ’s whole mission is a gift to you identity. His gift of salvation is the only thing that fills your identity tank. You are accepted despite your worst of sins; your are appreciated by God as if you lived Christ’s perfect moral life; you are affirmed as God’s eternal child and imputed eternal life once you believe in Him. That is the Gospel. Let your New Year plans involve teaching your soul to learn the truth of the Gospel, relearn the truth of the scriptures, unlearn the lies of this world until your identity is welded onto the cross. Tip for this: daily personal bible study devotion will get you there.
- Make room for God’s interruptions. I know you have plans and the verse I quoted from Proverbs 16:3 may have encouraged you. But there is Proverbs 16:1 as well and it comes before verse three. Proverbs 16:1 “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (ESV). It is proud to assume your plans are not worthy of interruption and divine editing. God will do away with sinful plans, selfish plans and vain plans. Your pride often revolves around those three things- your sin, your self-absorption and your vanity. And often, we go ahead with our sinful, selfish and vain plans and then invite God to bless them. God will not fund a cause that glorifies your flesh. You must examine your heart as you plan. We are not fully equipped to judge our hearts. Our hearts are deceitful and cannot be trusted (see Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts will always assume that our plans are stellar and innocent. And that innocent assumption is proof of your deceptive heart. The surest judge of your heart is the word of God (see Hebrews 4:12). Make room for plans to change. Even if your plans are not sinful, vain or selfish, God (by virtue of being God) has every sovereign right to do as He pleases with your plans. Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases.” (ESV). Don’t be tight-fisted on your idea of how life should be. Allow God to be Sovereign and quit trying to apply for His job. There is no fourth position in the Trinity. Be encouraged, Beloved, that our Sovereign God’s interruptions are always for our good even when we don’t think so. We live life forward but we only understand it looking backwards. With time, you will see that all He does is perfect. Tip: Daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures will make you submissive and open to God’s sovereignty.
- Finally, no amount of planning can replace your responsibility. God will not do by miracle what you ought to do by obedience. Always ask yourself, “Does God require my participation in this plan? Have I done my part?” Too many people make plans and go through 12 months waiting on God. No, Beloved, you are not waiting on God; God is waiting on you. Do your needful part.
Happy New Year!