I have spent the last two months doing more listening than talking. That’s a change for me. I feel really good. That should not be a surprise! So here I am on the first days of the year and what do I hear as a mandate for me in the coming year? I hear the word “commitment,” not resolution.
My online dictionary says “Resolution” is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” My decision. My determination to make the resolution happen. How has that worked for me in the past? Not very successfully.
On the other hand, the dictionary says “Commitment” is “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” For me, commitment is a daily desire on my part to set my mind on God and His plan for my day, my week, my life. I made a commitment to Henry when we married 17 years ago, relying on God, His strength and promises, to keep me true to the marriage covenant we made. It’s because of God that we are better than we were 17 years ago!
Last night I was reading about Joseph in Matthew 1. There’s little we know about Joseph and yet, he is the human father that God chose to care and protect His son, Jesus and His mother, Mary. Out of all the men in Judea, God chose a carpenter, but He chose a carpenter who listened and obeyed! Like Mary, Joseph is given a difficult word from God: go ahead with your betrothal to Mary for the child she carries has been conceived by God; she is still pure. But no one in their family or village is going to know that. Even if they told people this story, they probably wouldn’t believe them. They would probably think it was just a story made up to cover their “sins.” But Joseph takes God’s Word, His difficult Word, and acts in obedience. Why? Because he has a close relationship with God. Joseph spent time every day with God. When God brought encouragement to him, Joseph rejoiced. When God brought a difficult task to him, Joseph accepts God’s Word, he trusts His Word, he relies on His Word and re-orients his life to conform to that Word.
So as I tell Abba how I want to draw even closer to Him this year, I want to hear His voice. I want to walk in His way throughout the year in all things. I will rejoice in encouragement and I will obey even in the difficult times. As you join me in reading these two Scriptures, let’s slow down and not just nod in agreement. Let us consider how these words can be encouragement but they can also be difficult. Will I trust and obey in both circumstances?
Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news.
Be brave when you face your enemies. Your courage will show them that they are going to be destroyed, and it will show you that you will be saved. God will make all of this happen, and he has blessed you. Not only do you have faith in Christ, but you suffer for him. You saw me suffer, and you still hear about my troubles. Now you must suffer in the same way. – Philippians 1:27-30 (CEV)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)