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January 12, 2015

Resolutions & Regrets: A New Year

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Written by: Duane Covrig
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What are you plans for 2015? Finish a degree? Get married? Have children? Help the children you have? Travel more? Survive cancer?

A web site tracking resolutions list the top 10 as:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend Less. Save More.
  4. Enjoy Life More
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More time with Family

Each year, about 45% of us make such resolutions. Even more of us pause to imagine and dream about what we would want for the New Year.

And then be the third week of January, most resolutions have already fizzled out. The year the estimate is only 8% of us will fulfil our resolutions. What a sorry lot we are!! Whimps!!!

But in the dark cloud there is a silver lining. We keep making them.

And our failures speak to a greater truth. They suggest a moral nature that shares something with God. The ability to think about tomorrow and eternity. .

“He has made everything appropriate [beautiful] in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that [without which] man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

God has put a striving for more time, for more work, for new things in our hearts.

These desires drive human’s in a way that reminds us of our fundamental morality and that pesky but amazing ability to think of how better our lives could be if……

Each new day but especially each new year brings out that quality we share with our Father.

It shows a “power akin to the creator, to think and to do.” (White, Education, p. 17). Dreaming and acting on dreams is the stuff of divinity. It is the stuff of new year’s resolutions and even if the second part infrequently comes true (to do), it still shows our legacy in with our Dad.

It seems God is more excited about our future than we even get about it.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations…” Jeremiah 27: 11-13.

He created us to image better stuff for ourselves. EVEN or ESPECIALLY when we have failed.

In fact, this hopeful passage about God’s great plans for us come right after Jeremiah 27:10 that reminds of failure: “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”

They were in Babylon—bankrupt. The had sat down by the river and wept and wept. But that is when dreaming becomes even more valuable and important.

Don’t you think God felt the blow of their failure. He was trying to create His kingdom and had repeatedly failed. He was going to build up this light to the world. And it was darker than the world.

That is the time you need to dream. And that is exactly why he poured out his spirit.  The period of Exile wasone of the most productive times for prophets and we have their visions and writings to this day.

Yes….keep dreaming.

So, it is in the throes of failure, that two powerful moral actions remind us of our destiny in God: regret and resolutions.

Regret is the powerful tool to go back and imagine what could have been done that would have given better outcomes. Regret can be healthy in correct dosages. Regret speaks to this phenemonal ability to be moral creatures, to share with God the ability to make better plans. (I recommend the TED Lecture on Regret by Kathryn Schulz who shows us the moral power in regret).

Regret can launch faith into resolutions.

“The righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),  or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Believing in God does NOT disappoint. His creativity is contagious and His optimism for our future—even while we suffer from our bad choices—is amazing.

And faith has the best trickle down economics: we believe in God and that God’s plans can work in us. We believe in His story and start believing in our own. Like Father, Like Daughter. Like Father, Like Son.

He has set eternity in us. We have His stuff. Lets pick ourselves help and live in that acceptance and destiny.

Sadly, “our minds take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim.” (White, Education, p. 13)

Resolutions are the stuff of broader aims.

Jesus got into big trouble for giving us this resolution making ability, making us like Himself. Satan hated God for this act of selflessness.

Hebrews 2 tells us about his divine Chutzpah. He made us less than angels but with so much more potential.

“ For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying,

“What is man, that You remember him?
Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?
“You have made him for a little while lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.”

Yes, Jesus paid a huge price in making us like himself but start ups are always hard. And what was the dynamic engine—social community born of sever interdependence—that was to make the difference. Male and female in interdependence. No wonder God hates divorce and Satan tries to cause it.

But when Adam and Eve bobbled this great opportunity, God didn’t pull back. He reinvested, creating His own salvation process, doubling up on the promise, and pouring out more investments till the only thing he had left to give was His own life.

Emanuel, God with us.

Christmas makes New Year’s resolutions possible. Every dream can have a rebirth.

So why not work with God this year.

And this Christmas story isn’t seasonal. He restated the Emanuel story right before he died. .

In John 10:31-36 him defending again the right of humans to share with Him this inventive quality of resolutions. .

Jesus was being pestered about saying He was God. He knew he was. The Jewish leaders wanted to bait him into saying once again He was divine so they could label Him as Blaspheming. He loved stepping into their trap and went even further.

The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

He got in trouble for not just making us like Himself, but treating us like He loved God and then calling us what we all know we don’t deserve….gods, join heirs with him.

What a legacy we have in Christ.

Even if by day 15, your resolutions are like ropes of sand, use it to remind you who gave you this great ability to plan, go to your Babylon, and start dreaming again. He will give you that vision you need.

He plans for us to rule the universe.

Talk about crazy resolutions!!!!!! But I think He can pull it off!!!



About the Author

Duane Covrig
I teach leadership and ethics at Andrews University. I am a Seventh-day Adventist eager for the Second Coming of Christ and positive about His judgment hour work (Rev 14:6-12). I use that reality to understand morality and ethics.




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