Now that we’re almost a month into 2019, have you made progress on your New Year’s resolutions? Are you well on your way to creating new habits that will lead to better lifelong behaviors?
Or are you like me—still looking for the perfect time to get started?
When I’m deep into the craziness of a holiday season, it’s easy to tell myself that I’m going to change things up right after the first of the year. I’m going to start eating better and exercising more. I’m going to keep my email inbox under control and learn how to actually use all my fancy task management apps. I’m going to become more disciplined about my Bible study and my prayer life.
But when New Year’s Day rolls around, I realize that the holidays aren’t quite over yet. I really can’t start a new diet when there’s so much good food left in the house. And I need to wrap up these urgent projects and get all the Christmas decorations put away before I can settle into a daily routine that includes adequate time for exercise and prayer and sleep.
When I get time, I think, when things settle down, when everything is “normal,” then I can focus on all the good things I want to do.
A few years ago, about this time of year, I realized I might be going at this the wrong way when I discovered this verse from Isaiah: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (32:17).
Righteousness produces peace? This idea startled me because I don’t typically think to pursue righteousness as a path to peace. In fact, I tend to do just the opposite, seeking peace in my life so I’ll have time to focus on being righteous. As with my New Year’s resolutions, I tell myself that when I have more time, fewer worries, extra money, less stress, I will focus more attention and time on “becoming righteous.”
And then I wonder why I never seem to find that peace.
Jesus warned about spending too much time fretting over everyday chores and challenges, assuring us that God knows what we need and will provide it if we focus first on righteousness. “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33).
And that’s when we will find the peace that far surpasses the satisfaction of a successful New Year’s resolution.