Tis the season to make resolutions. To choose one or two things to resolve to do differently as one-year changes to the next. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, they tend to be short-lived and lead us to make rash promises. Some have chosen goals instead of resolutions, better but missing a vital element because our goals are often too narrow or overly broad. Besides, none of us can predict what next year will bring.
James offers us some practical advice in this realm of resolution making and goal setting. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”(James 4:13–15, NASB95)
Many of us have been taught to never pray “if it be Your will” because it seems to lack faith and steeped in doubt. There are some things about which we confidently know God’s will, but if we’re honest there are plenty of life challenges where it isn’t so clear. Only God fully knows His will. We only know what He chooses to reveal. In many instances praying “if it be Your will.” is a statement of great faith, trust, and surrender.
Before setting down goals, plans, or even resolutions take time to lean into God’s will for you. His design for you. Paul advised, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NASB95) Allow Him to reset your priorities, remembering Jesus’ instruction about what we are to seek first. Ask God to order your steps as in Proverbs 3:5-6. Be resolute but also flexible since God may have designs that you don’t know. Above all, lean into God’s will for you even if you don’t know what it is. In other words, lean God’s direction even if you don’t fully know the destination.
I don’t know what the next year is going to bring. Well, that’s only partially true. I don’t know the specific circumstances, challenges, and storms that will come my way. Although I do see a few of them on the horizon. I can, however, boldly and confidently predict that as I lean into God, instead of leaning against the winds of the world, He will guide my steps towards Him and the fruition of His Kingdom. It’s not a resolution or a goal but a foundational priority of the highest order. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NLT) Set this priority and other things will fall into place.