It’s the beginning of a New Year, and so many of us have hopes and dreams of what 2018 will bring. Around this time of year we all set our goals and make our resolutions, and sometimes they even last past April! If you’ve ever made a resolution or set a goal that didn’t come to pass, you know that the intention alone is not enough to carry it through.
In our society we are used to instant gratification, and long-term goals don’t suit the lifestyle and culture. Waiting patiently and working toward a goal is not normal for this generation when we can just ask Alexa and have it in two days on our front doorstep. We also tend to focus on the end product, but God is always interested in the journey. Many people want to lose 25 lbs, but don’t want anything to do with the gym or the treadmill. We get carried away with all the results we want to see, but maybe it’s important that we take the approach of scripture. Rather than adding 12 things we want to see accomplished in 2018, what if we simplified it and focused instead on the discipline the journey will certainly require. Begin with the end in mind… definitely… but that doesn’t mean we skip the molding and shaping God has for us in the meantime.
For David… the end was not about his achievements, but something far greater: “The one thing I ask of the Lord — the thing I seek most — is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” David knew that the most important thing was to make God his goal, his end result, his focal point… and prioritize Life in Him above all else. Through the biggest challenges and the greatest successes, David was more interested in what God thought than the voices of the people around him or the voices of his emotions inside him. He goes on to talk about meditating in the Temple… a curious metaphor as the Temple didn’t exist until his son built it! What David was saying is that I will learn and build whatever is necessary to pursue my God with all I’ve got.
What if we took this approach to 2018? What if, instead of focusing on the end of the journey, we chose to embrace what the journey requires, paying attention to the disciplines we need to get closer to God this year? As you think of the year ahead, I want to challenge you to prioritize your relationship with the Lord, and then ask… “what one thing do I need to work on to get closer? What discipline can I add?”
In the business world, there is a principle called “change one thing.” If we changed a bunch of stuff in our business model and achieve success or fail miserably, we won’t know which change produced the result. So we change one thing at a time and then see what it produces. We plant a seed, and look for fruit. So as you look at 2018 from a spiritual perspective, know that God is desperate for you to draw close to him. “You will seek me and find me,” says the Lord, “when you seek me with all of your heart.” What one spiritual discipline can draw you closer to the Lord of Heaven this year? Maybe fasting regularly will help you to draw near, or learning to meditate on his promises. Maybe cultivating a heart of worship is the step you need to take this year, or diving deep and committing to a regular prayer life. Plus one is a teaching series intentionally not focused on the end goals we set, but on the disciplines we need to walk the journey.