What a huge difference ten days can make! On December 31, I stood with anticipation on the brink of a brand new, completely untarnished stretch of twelve months. Having reviewed the lessons learned and progress made in my life in 2016, I eagerly set goals for 2017; goals to not only improve myself personally, but to fulfill God’s calling for my life. And now, just a week-and-a-half into the New Year, the anticipation and eagerness I had at the beginning have taken a definite turn toward despondency.
For in just ten days, I can see how far off track I have already strayed. Although I have improved in some areas, I have stagnated, or even regressed, in others. I have been consistent in exercise, for example, but my poor eating habits have undermined any hope of improving my run times with a healthy diet. That pound bag of M&M’s I purchased on January 3, which I planned to just eat “as needed” over the course of a month to ease my chocolate craving, is totally empty in just a week. My study of the book of Zechariah was not completed in the first week of January as scheduled because of the several days I spent decrying the difficulty of understanding it and then putting it aside for easier studies. In other areas of my life, I set goals and laid out plans, but simply did not start the journey toward completing them.
This brings to mind some verses that stood out to me from Zechariah (the part that I have actually studied!). Zechariah 8:9 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong…that the temple might be built.’” And Zechariah 8:13 reiterates, “…Fear not, but let your hands be strong.” This coincides with what God spoke to the leaders and the people through the prophet Haggai during the same timeframe: “…Be strong…work, for I am with you (Haggai 2:4).” God had called the people, under Zerubbabel and Joshua, to rebuild the temple, but they got off track and neglected to fulfill God’s calling in a timely manner. Now God commanded them to take action, to work with their hands to complete the task laid before them, and promised that He would enable them to finish the job. Similarly, in Hebrews 12:2, 12-13, God commands us to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet…” These verses make it evident that while God promises to empower me to live out His calling, I also have a responsibility to actually move, to take action toward fulfilling that calling. I can hope for and pray for change all day long, but if I make no effort to actualize that change, it will remain nothing but a distant dream.
How will this scriptural principle change my approach to 2017? In response to this truth, my plan is to prayerfully review my goals, and then to write down specific monthly, weekly, and daily actions that will move me toward completion of those goals. Finally, I will step out in faith with those actions (starting with buying healthy snacks instead of M&M’s!) and trust God to empower me, as I go, to fulfill His calling for my life.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).