Live Resolved in 2017
A young Jonathan Edwards penned 70 life resolutions, the first being "I will live for God's glory." As we have seen the close of 2016 and the start of 2017 is right on the horizon, for many of us we have sat ourselves down and have assessed the past year. I know for me personally, this year has been one of incredible transition, difficulty yet it was very transformative. While 2016 was all intense and purposes a good year for our family, I for one, am looking forward to 2017. How we start the next year is so very important. Like a runner who stumbles at the beginning of the race, I feel that many people do not take the time to prepare themselves for the coming year. So when the New Year begins they are left tripping out the gate, struggling to find their footing so that they can run. This is going beyond making a New Year's resolution which statistically speaking is hardly ever accomplished. It is so true that this is the case that the joke that floats around this time of year is, "My New Year's resolution is not to make a New Year's resolution." Again this isn't about setting a goal for 2017 (which I am not entirely opposed to) rather this is about setting a focus for the entire year. Going back to Jonathan Edwards, he is not a name that is very well known in our modern day. I can scarcely find within the church even, anyone who has ever heard of him. If anything is known about Edwards, he is almost presented as an enigmatic historical figure whose only claim to fame is that he wrote a sermon called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." However, Edwards is a remarkable figure within church history and even within American history. The spiritual revivals of the First Great Awakening led by men such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards is what sparked the 13 colonies to be bold in their proclamation of freedom, declare independence from Great Britain and have the courage to see it through. When the French statesmen, Alexis De Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he remarked, "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power." These "pulpits ablaze" were a continuation of what was started by the First Great Awakening and by Jonathan Edwards. Yet what we can glean from the life of Jonathan Edwards is this: that he lived his life with a singular focus and passion and it governed everything he did. In fact, this example was set before him in the life of the Apostle Paul who wrote "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize...therefore I do not run aimlessly"(1 Cor. 9:24-26). How often we start out the year with good intentions only to find half-way through, we have forgotten the goal and why we wanted to accomplish it. What is your focus for this next year and what are you going to do to make sure you run with that in mind? Undoubtedly as everyday life shows us, that there are so many things out there that can distract and deter us. Here is a little advice from one runner to another: pick a focus worth running for. The singular focus and passion of the Apostle Paul's life and Edwards' was God's glory, chiefly manifested by Jesus Christ. The "prize" that Paul mentioned in 1 Cor. 9:24-26 was not a perishable wreath of victory, but an imperishable wreath of glory. When the focus is on something that is so magnificent and so extraordinarily wonderful that when lesser things move to pull you off course, what they are offering doesn't compare to the object of your focus. Again, I will submit to you along with Paul and Edwards that Christ is of unparalleled value and worth running for. So I invite you to "lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus"(Heb 12:1-2). My prayer is for you to run well in 2017 and know that I and others are running with you.