I love New Years Day. I love the fresh start, the clean slate, the opportunities that a new, untarnished, unblemished year represents.
And this year, as New Years Day falls on a Sunday, it seems even more symbolic:
A new day, a new week, and a new year. It can’t get much better than that!
I don’t make New Years resolutions, but I do use the freshness of a brand new calendar year to “refresh” myself: to do some self-evaluation, to challenge myself to revisit bygone goals, to ponder new exploits and ways to stretch and grow in a variety of ways.
After all, each new year holds limitless opportunity if it is stewarded properly.
Every now and then I run across teachings – in print or in person – that emphasize starting small. Take small steps and gain momentum. Start easy. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
And, as in most self-help quips, there is a grain of truth there. Perhaps a large grain. After all, God spoke through His prophets not to despise the day of small beginnings. And when pondering a new year, it is important to remain realistic. That’s not a new revelation – it’s basic common sense, and it’s something we all need to keep in mind.
However, as I was listening to this sentiment being promulgated recently, it didn’t sit right with my spirit. And I asked myself, Why? If this is common sense – if there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this advice – why was it making me so uncomfortable?
As I searched for an answer, three words rang into my mind: Do Hard Things.
And in that instant, I realized what it was that made me cringe.
Not the words themselves — but the implicit excuse that they held.
Do we want to set ourselves up for success? Absolutely.
Do we conquer major goals with one step at a time? Definitely.
Do we need to know how to cope with failure when we fall short? Of course.
But as we look to this New Year, I want to add a caveat to the sentiment of starting slow and easy.
Don’t let the common sense stuff keep you from setting big goals.
In other words, friends: Let 2017 be your year to do hard things.
What are these “hard things”?
I’m not talking about running marathons…
Or becoming millionaires.
I’m taking about hard things in our relationship with God.
Carving out time in our busy schedules (that, upon evaluation, are often not as crucially busy as we think) to sit before God…listen to God…write what we hear God say…talk to God…read God’s Word…meditate on God’s Word…worship God…enjoy His Presence.
Don’t think that is a “hard thing”? Let’s be honest here.
Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to set this:
And get up to do this:
Instead of this:
But the rewards are infinitely worth it!
Those who abide in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psa. 91:1
This New Year, don’t make a resolution to spend time with God.
Don’t make it a goal.
Just do it.
Aiming for five minutes? Make it ten.
Aiming for ten minutes? Make it twenty.
A half hour? Make it an hour. You can do it.
Will it be easy? No.
Will you have to give something up for it? Probably. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)
Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul follows hard after Thee. Where can I go to meet with God?” Psa. 42:1-2
Let 2017 be the year to do hard things.
Don’t let anyone tell you to take it easy when it comes to your relationship with God.
Do hard things.
I promise you will never, ever regret it.