With a new lunar year comes the opportunity for optimism, the thoughts of fresh possibilities in the year to come. If you stop to think about it, you cannot help but nurture hopes and maybe even make resolutions for the time ahead. This is the year — the year I take that holiday! Run that marathon! Read that book! Watch less Netflix! Watch more Netflix!
What do you want for this year? Normally, our annual aspirations are all about getting back control of our lives and achieving something worthwhile.
Jonathan Edwards, America’s great 18th-century theologian, did resolutions a little differently. His famous list (written when he was 18) runs to 70 resolutions, each one beginning with a decisive “Resolved”.
Some sound familiar to 21st-century eras. “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time,” or, “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live” or, “Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking”.
Other resolutions cover areas that most of us don’t really think about. “Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them”, or “Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace.”
Edwards doesn’t mention career progression, physical appearance, fitness goals, holiday destinations, bank balances, or property acquisition. His resolutions were more concerned with his relationships with others and his own character; “Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.”
Reading Edwards’s resolutions got me thinking: Do I have the same hopes for the coming year? Do I make relational goals, to be a better spouse, parent, friend, and co-worker?
Edwards was realistic enough to know that he wasn’t likely to keep all his resolutions perfectly. So he prefaces his list with a prayer: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”
Making goals for the coming year is good practice. Making wise goals that bring honour to Jesus and serve those around us is even better. In this coming lunar year, may God guide and direct you, and bring you peace and joy through his Son Jesus.