Did you know that we can trace the creation of new year “resolutions” back about 4,000 years? We have record of the ancient Babylonians being among the first to create festivals to honor the new year. Medieval knights would recommit their oaths of chivalry around this time, Romans made their own promises to a god represented at the beginning of their calendar, and even the father of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, created the Covenant Renewal Service so that his followers might reflect and resolve to be better in the next year.
What does this tell us about human nature? That the art of self-improvement isn’t going away any time soon, and that it is a multi-cultural concept.
You and I live in a modern day blunder of ideas, some of which relate to self-improvement, but our human nature combats that with the need for instant gratification. And that’s the reason most New Year’s resolutions fail.
But if you pick one word or concept to improve, plant it, water it and tend the soil, you will reap a harvest that might impress you.
The word that God had me focus on last year was “harvest.” It sounds a little vague, but it was truly incredible to see how the Lord needed me to tend the field of my life every day. To pull the weeds every day. And to make sure that the nutrients I put into my life far outweighed the toxins.
“Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” – Galatians 6:7 NLT
That verse was at my desk, written on my mirror at home, and even set as a daily reminder on my phone. I was planting seeds all over the place!
What did I want my life to look like? Better yet: what did God want my life to look like? I realized I was far from that picture, so I put my boots on to do some work.
Here are some things that I learned:
1. Not everyone is on the same journey as you.
Have you ever gone to a conference or concert and been so on fire that you considered pursuing your craziest dreams? And then you look around and the passerbys are just trying to get through the day and they’re not making eye contact with you… You realize that you’re alone in that moment. Like it’s a movie. That’s okay. Don’t kill your dreams based on everyone else’s inability to see the way up the mountain. But also don’t do crazy things in emotional moments.
2. Don’t look at other people’s fields.
Your field is yours. Who cares if the grass is greener on their side?! It’s not your grass! God gave you your very own plot of land to do with what you can and he did not ask you to lean over the fence and scowl at their progress or steal their sunshine. But, friends, he did give you a neighbor that can share farming skills and wisdom with you. He’s good like that.
3. Rain makes the flowers grow.
There will be plenty of rainy days. You’ll ask God for something and he’ll be like, “Great! Let’s do that!” *cue thunderclap* You know the opening scene in Emperor’s New Groove where the llama is sitting under a leaf in the pouring rain? You’ll feel like that a lot. But rain is needed for a bountiful harvest. And sometimes you plant daffodils but God decides you really need some roses to smell. Moral: don’t be surprised by what starts springing up.
Truthfully, I was grateful for my word because it meant putting my blinders on and getting down to business. I enjoy hard work. It’s in my DNA. And my enneagram – where my 8’s at?! You may not enjoy it like I do, but pruning the bad stuff has been a concept for thousands of years. It’s necessary.
It’s necessary because, when you’ve done the blood, sweat, and tears thing, you. get. a. harvest! It’s like a 365 day map with start and finish dots that athletic people use for exercise! You get to see how far you came.
As we hit the threshold for 2019, I began praying for my new word. What did God want from me and for me next?
That’s all I had to go off of. Did that mean harvest again? I had no clue until I stumbled across a scripture in Hosea.
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” – Hosea 2:14-15
Ahhh there it is. Victory. Can I be honest with you?? In 2017 and 2018, I felt like I had some things taken away from me that God didn’t feel like I was ready for yet. You have to walk before you can run. As sad as I was about it, I wanted to be trusted with more, with even better. So I let those things go.
It’s time to let some things go. It’s time to pick up some new things and buckle down. Resolutions may not work, but revelations do. When I look at my new scripture from Hosea, I see victory. Why? Because what I felt was “taken away” will be restored: “I will return her vineyards to her…”
Time to sit back and watch them grow. I’m halfway to my harvest.