We’re just a few days into 2016, and already, there has been so much talk of resolutions, goals, and other such things. These goals have varied, too, from health and wellness, to finding a new career, to seeing something or someplace new, and so much more. If you can name it, it can most likely become a goal to aspire towards this year.
Putting the debate over whether “resolutions” should actually be called “resolutions” aside, think about what your goals for this year are. If you want, take a piece of paper and write them down. Now, think about this: how many of those goals involve your relationship with God and/or getting to Heaven?
It’s important that in any day of our lives – whether it’s on January 1st or any other day of the year – we keep in mind who we are and Whose we are, and in doing so, we need to act accordingly. Since we’ve started a new year, and now is as good a time as any to look at our goals for our relationship with the One who created us, I thought I’d outline some starting goals – some “simple intentions”, if you will – to springboard thoughts and discussion of how we want to spend this year growing closer to Him.
This year, we should resolve to pray more.
Much like we want to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in awhile, and much like we want to grow even closer to our own families and our church homes, we should want to pursue talking and growing closer to God through prayer. We are already called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and Jesus Himself gave us the perfect example of prayer twofold. One example is in the form of a written outline for how we should pray, which Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13. The other notable example – which is repeated often during His ministry on earth – are His prayers to His Father. He prays on behalf of the people He is serving and ministering to (John 17:20), along with praying to God for His will to be done (Matthew 26:42).
Because Jesus made a point to pray, so should we. His divinity did not cause Him to talk to God less; rather, it made Him want to talk to His Father more. Think of a close family member or friend. How would you feel if you only talked to them every once in awhile, when you’re feeling extremely happy or extremely sad depending on your circumstances? That’s usually not the case, right? In fact, that’s usually far, far away from what you’d do: you want to share so much more than just peaks and valleys. You want to share the in-between.
God wants the in-between, too, so make a point to communicate all parts of your life with Him.
This year, we should resolve to serve more.
There’s always time to serve, whether the scale is small or large, within our family or within our community, and so much more. There are many examples of Jesus Himself serving, whether it was through miracles or through teaching others. And we can do the same, whether that’s serving someone by bringing them food when they’re sick, or cleaning up their yard after a natural disaster, or whether it’s being an example to others, any service that you can do to help someone else will help further the kingdom of God.
If you’re unsure of how you can serve, this is where prayer can come into play. I’ve said on this blog time and time again that it’s important to pray for God’s will to be revealed if you’re unsure about something. This is something that I’ve worked on in my own Christian walk, and even when it’s not easy to see the big picture, it’s important to trust in Him, and we can be assured that He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).
Finally, this year, we should resolve to imitate Christ.
The heart of prayer and service is Christ Himself, and as such, we should imitate Him. We should be “doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
But where do you even start? How do you imitate the One who not only created you, but also died to save you from your sins? Well, for starters, we can – and should – do this because we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Then, delve into His Word. You won’t know how to imitate someone if you haven’t been around them, and on earth, the best way we can do so with Christ is to read and hear what He has to say. Then, pray that you will be able to imitate and glorify Him to the best of your ability (Psalm 86:12).
No matter what your stance on making “resolutions” for the New Year may be, it’s always a good idea to intend to and to take action to become closer to God and thus gain the eternity that He promises us in Heaven. And honestly, even if this year doesn’t turn out how we imagine, having that closeness to God, loving Him, and obeying His commands are all that matters in the long run. Because at the end of that good race, we will receive the prize of Heaven – eternity with Him – if we keep the faith.