"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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The Year of Transformation

This time of year, the Internet is overflowing with articles and tools designed to help people break old habits and embrace new ones. From fitness tips and calorie trackers to budgeting programs, reading plans, DIY projects and self-help guides, they all share one aim: to foster positive change.

Most Americans enter into the first weeks of the year full of enthusiasm, proudly proclaiming their New Year’s Resolutions. I will admit that I’m no exception. In addition to reading through the Bible in one year (something I have done previously and enjoyed), I intend to work out at least 5 days/week with the goal of building muscle, improving my cardiovascular strength, and (of course) losing 10 pounds.

As I thought about ways to increase my chances of long-term success, I started to consider the root of the word “resolution.” When we make a resolution, we resolve to do something, what does that really mean?

Random House Dictionary defines the term resolve as, “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something).” Those words are key — definite, earnest, determine(d). There’s no ambiguity there. When we resolve to do something, we are serious.

In addition, the dictionary includes two more definitions that I believe are worth noting:

  • to reduce or convert by, or as by, breaking up or disintegration (usually fol. by to or into ).
  • to convert or transform by any process (often used reflexively).

Making a resolution is a transformative process — we are breaking with the status quo and converting to a new system (whether that is following a healthy eating plan, using Quickbooks for accounting, or allocating 10 minutes each morning to prayer).  When we make a New Year’s Resolution, the ultimate goal is to be transformed.

“Resolution” also shares the same root as “resolute,” which means to be firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion. Again, we are firm in our convictions and set on a path toward positive change. When we make a resolution, we should be unshakeable.

With the Christmas season having just passed, I am reminded of the resolve demonstrated by Joseph, perhaps one of the greatest unsung heroes of scripture. While traveling with his young fiancee, Joseph is presented with a difficult and very emotional choice:

Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)

Bear in mind that in Joseph’s day and age, Mary could have been stoned to death had she been found to be pregnant out of wedlock. Stoned to death. Her life was literally in his hands. What’s more, Joseph could have been cast out of society for choosing to stay with her — and here an angel was telling him to take Mary as his wife and accept the child as his own?

Think about the magnitude of that decision. Think about the conviction it takes to accept that burden — to take that risk — and walk in obedience. Joseph demonstrates this kind of resolve:

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25, emphasis mine.)

Joseph made the ultimate New Year’s Resolution: he resolved to trust God. After Jesus was born, Joseph was again visited by an angel of the Lord, first telling him when to flee with his family to Egypt, and later telling him when to return to Israel. Each time, without hesitation, Joseph obeyed. He was set in his opinion that God is trustworthy. He was earnest in his decision to follow God’s directives, and because of his resolve, his life and the future of all mankind was transformed.

This year, as you write down your resolutions, I encourage you to put God on the list. Make a commitment to spend some time with the Lord, getting to know Him and asking for guidance.  Jesus tells His followers, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Resolve to ask, seek and knock this year. I promise, you will be transformed.

1 comment

1 Maggie { 01.01.11 at 3:43 pm }

Hey our blogs have similar themes! I knew I liked you!

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