Resolutions are difficult things to keep. Especially so, are the ones we make at New Year. At some point in our lives, most of us will have made at least one resolution to give up something. With myself, it's chocolate. I have a very sweet tooth and just can't give up eating it no matter how I try, despite the fact that I am putting on weight.
The most popular resolutions are, of course, to lose weight, or to stop smoking. They are also the most difficult ones to keep. In the case of losing weight, once a person has achieved their dream figure, the story doesn't end there. They are faced with the added problem of maintaining this weight, despite all the temptations that are thrown in their way.
With smoking, the craving persists and the person feels so alone, as they fight their way through this continual craving to eventual freedom, which can sometimes feel like an eternity in coming. What makes matters worse, is that as a side effect, this person will sometimes develop a craving for food or sweets, resulting in them putting on weight and ironically replacing one problem with another!
It's not surprising that resolutions are so seriously considered, as the old year ends and a new one approaches. The last few days of the old year are always a popular time for reflection. At this time, almost all of us are on holiday and with the excitement and over indulgence of Christmas now past, we tend to look at closely at ourselves, as the old year draws to a close and think back on how things have gone during the year. Where have we succeeded? Where have we possibly failed?
Understandably, we look for new beginnings. All human beings are forward thinking and we make new plans on how we can improve ourselves. It is almost as if we can magically close a door on our old failings when the old year ends, while simultaneously opening a new doorway to a much better life as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December.
If only this could really happen!
In reality, however, most New Year resolutions are hastily abandoned in almost all cases, usually before the month of January has even ended. However although, like myself you may be disappointed that your will power was so weak yet again this year, we can both take comfort from the fact that we are definitely not the only ones and not by a long shot either. You and I are not the only people who are disappointed. There are, in fact, millions of us. It basically boils down to lack of willpower, but the main ingredient for failure is lack of determination. Determination is the most wonderful ally that we can have beside us if we really want to achieve something.
Our relationship with God can sometimes be similar to how we approach our New Year Resolutions. We start off with the best of intentions. Perhaps we attend Church regularly, then somewhere along the line, we fall by the wayside. It can be a simple thing that causes it as well. One Sunday, we are just too tired to go, because we were out late the night before. Then it's harder to go the next week, as we feel guilty, so we decide to stay at home again. The weeks then become months and it gets harder and harder to go back.
So we simply try to put it all to the back of our minds, where it won't bother us quite as much. Or there could be another reason for losing touch with God. It could be that we feel that God has let us down for some reason. Perhaps things have not gone our way. Or we feel we have been abandoned at a time, when we needed help the most. There are a hundred and one reasons.
It is easy to think that staying in touch with God would be the easiest thing in the world. After all he is always there. He is always listening. However for some, it can turn out to be as difficult as keeping those New Year resolutions, which in the optimistic atmosphere of a New Year approaching seem possible, but in the cold light of day are deceptively and frustratingly difficult. As a result, we can all think up really good excuses why we just haven't got round to doing this.
“I'm just too busy,” you might say.
“I don't know where to start,” is another popular reason.
“God won't listen to me. Why should he after the way I've treated him?”
This is a bit like the resolutions and it is where most people give up. They feel that because they have abandoned God, they naturally think that he has abandoned them. This is a perfectly human emotion for people in this situation to feel, as they are thinking how they would react if someone abandoned them and didn't want to know them any more.
They couldn't be further wrong. God never abandons anyone who searches for him, or looks for help, even if it has been a long time since they have spoken to him. There is a short passage in Hebrews. It is only one sentence but always brings great comfort to me. God says,
“I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”
(Hebrews Chapter 13, verse 5.)
The one thing I like about this, is that God doesn't make any conditions with this statement. He could have said,
“I will never leave you if you are always faithful and worship me.”
But this is not the case. He makes no conditions and uses the word “never.” The word implies no nonsense. This isn't just an empty promise made to impress us, or win points with us. It is a word that is not ambiguous. It cannot be interpreted any other way. This is a solemn pledge. God means he will be with us forever, even when sometimes we are maybe not with him.
God has, in effect, made a wonderful resolution to every one of us that he will never abandon us. I have every faith as well, that he is much better at keeping his resolutions than we are. Don't be afraid to search for him in your heart, even if it has been a long time. Make a resolution to talk to him, even if it is just a few words to start with. That way you will find it is an easy resolution to keep. You will soon find out how easy it is to get to know him again. As a result, you will want to talk to him more.
It's funny, but most things we have a craving for are bad for us, resulting in resolutions being made to stop. Won't it be great for a change, to have a craving for something that is good for us, resulting in a resolution being made to continue at all costs!