As 2017 approached, social media showed that many people were preparing to improve their lives, or at least some aspects of them, once Jan. 1 hit. From improving eating habits to growing in a relationship with God, people seem really excited about whatever they’ve chosen to do to improve their lives. I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions, and maybe it’s because I understand the reality of my discipline issues.
About five years ago, I committed to reading the Bible in one year. I used a Bible reading plan that could help me stay on track and finish. I’m not sure if I just wanted to say that I had finished the Bible, or if I actually wanted to learn the content. Either way, I didn’t complete my goal. My new year’s resolution was squashed within the first month. When I was able to finish the whole reading for the day, I felt good. It gave me motivation for the next day. Until that one day. That one day I didn’t allot enough time to read my daily portion. I fell behind and had to add those pages to the next day. And, for someone who has never really enjoyed reading, this just seemed like a rapidly growing snowball that just rolled faster and faster away from me. So I gave up.
I didn’t quit reading the Bible, but I definitely didn’t try to continue my plan, which gave me an excuse to read much less. That was my problem: I quit the plan. I looked ahead and knew that I could never catch up and wouldn’t finish in a year. I wouldn’t reach my goal, but I really should have had a different goal to begin with. What I really needed was to understand the importance of developing a new discipline, primarily a spiritual one. I needed to see the value of pressing on to develop new habits. I should have tackled each day’s reading assignment as it came, instead of feeling like I had messed the full year up, so I might as well give up and try again next year. I should have kept reading, no matter how long it took, beyond the year.
Let’s make 2017 about developing a spiritual discipline (along with your other resolutions). And let us not grow weary in doing what is good. Let’s tackle each day as it comes and not believe the lie that we’ve messed it up and that it isn’t worth continuing (maybe with some modifications). Discipline comes with making a choice to fight the easy way out. Whatever spiritual discipline you decide to develop this year, trust that God will bless you, even in the midst of all your weakness.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
— Galatians 6:9