January 3, 2016

Before You Make That List of Resolutions ...

Happy new year, friends!  As we welcome 2016 I want to share Psalm 1 with you.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

I open the year here on Life in the Valley this way, because the start to a new year can make us a little nuts.  Giddily we set goals and make plans for the coming year, resolving that this will be the year of grand transformation and productivity!  Of course, that year has never happened according to our plans.  And though we have grown and changed and developed new habits over the years as a result of a little planning, resolutions never result in the complete transformation we desire.

One of my biggest troubles is getting obsessed with making precisely the right choice in every situation. The problem with this is that there are many options in most situations that could be equally as fine.  Some examples: Spend time with people or spend time alone?  Hang out with the family or get a chore done?  Commit to plans at the weekend or leave it open?  Spend money on this thing or save for another?  And so on and so forth.  I can make myself crazy worrying about making the "right" choice, rather than relaxing, making a decision, and letting the time (or money or whatever) be spent as it is spent and letting life unfold however it does.  Even in the middle of certain activities, I can find myself fretting that I'm not able to simultaneously do the other thing that seems pressing.  Can you relate?

I am certain this is NOT how God wants me, or you, to live!  He has not called his children to live in a state of constant internal frenzy, panic, and fear!  Jesus talked, after all, about righteousness in conjunction with peace and soul-rest.

Which brings me back to Psalm 1, Blessed is the one.  The "one" described is the person who forsakes the way of the world for the way of God, delighting in and meditating on His law.  His heart is oriented toward the Lord, and consequently, he is deeply rooted, fruitful, healthy, and prosperous.  In contrast, the "wicked", those not oriented toward their Creator, are not connected, rooted, fed, and growing.  As easily as wind blows away chaff, they will be blown away and unable to stand before the Lord with the righteous.

Now, at this point you might be thinking, "That's not very nice."  But we are dealing here with the Word of the Lord and He has laid out these two options for us: His way or our own.  He is also quite clear, from Genesis to Revelation, about the results of each path.  To know life, we must choose His way.  "Wickedness", i.e. our own way, leads only to death and separation from Him.  Check out the final verse; it's a good summary of this:

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

In those words I find great comfort and instruction for my frenzied heart and mind, that fear failure by not getting everything "right."  I pray you will find balm for your soul in these words, too.  Here's it is.  Those who walk in God's way are being watched over by their Lord.  God's people are called to know and obey His law, of course, but they are also cared for, sustained,  and preserved by the law-giver!  We may be fickle and inconsistent, but the Lord is not.  Blessed be His holy name!

Starting 2016 here fills me with hope.  The Lord is not calling us to get life "right".  He is calling us to live life with our faces, hearts, and minds turned toward Him.  As His children, we can begin this new year confident that He is watching over our way!  We can also take heart, knowing that in choosing Him He will make us as trees planted by streams of water, deeply rooted, fruitful, healthy, and prosperous, to His glory and praise.

Make those resolutions, they help us grow.  (I've got my "word of the year" all ready to go!)  But first, bow the knee, so you're in the right position before the Lord and can give HIM the honor and praise for the growth that comes over the next twelve months.

Happy new year!


  1. What's your word?!? When will you share it??

    1. The Word of the Year is surrender! I think I mentioned it deep in a post recently, but it was toward the end. Still not sure what approach to take with writing this year. I'll write more about that scary word soon! Do you have a word for the year?!

  2. What's your word?!? When will you share it??