I guess people usually set their year’s resolution on New Year’s Day itself.
Nonetheless, CNY just passed (in fact, it’s still ongoing), so I guess this counts as well.
I started thinking about my resolution on the flight to Chennai, on New Year’s Day itself. In that in-between period, I’ve written a lot of things, thought a lot of things and felt a lot of things. I guess, over the last one-and-a-half month, I’ve been shuffling and re-shuffling this deck of cards, imaging and re-imagining the story I want to tell, just chewing and chewing on my hopes for the year. This hand of cards, this story, this warm chewy cookie has been refreshed and updated with every new revelation and experience, and I guess it’s finally mature.
I started out my resolutions with this verse:
You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
I believed that God would make all things new, and as much as the year before had been a year of a lot of challenges and sowing, this year would be a victorious year of reaping.
I also resolved that this would be a year of positive confession. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
As the days passed and we got into the swing of school, several listless days and a couple of (big enough set backs), I slowly discovered areas of weakness in my life that the earlier, general resolution was insufficient to cover. While they set the backdrop to the entire year, I needed specific resolutions to tide me through.
So, I have five buzzwords this year, and they are as follows.
The theme this year for my zone in church is discipleship. Discipleship is sooo important to the Christian walk. Discipleship is having someone more spiritually mature and whom you respect, for you to be accountable to, and who can speak specifically and directly into your life. Discipleship is having your character moulded. It is following after that leader just like Jesus commanded Peter and the other disciples, to ‘Follow Me’. It is learning how to bear the cross just that much more in your every day walk, and to have someone to seek for advise and counsel without fear that you are bothering that person and intruding in his/her life.
Paul said to the Corinthians: “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
It is finding that one person who will “beget” us.
That day I was catching up with two wonderful friends. We talked about many things, and this included some people who were around us. We talked about some of them having an inadequate confidence in themselves. As I went back that day, though it was initially subtle, I felt my own confidence in myself being called into question. I also realised that being unconfident was not something I liked to think about or be associated with, perhaps because it reminded me of who I was in the past. I remembered those old days before I got saved that I really had hardly any confidence at all in myself, and the specific feeling of feeling judged if I walked around the canteen or any part of school alone.
Those days are doubtless long over, as over the years I had slowly but surely found my confidence by knowing who I was in Christ and confessing the word of God. I slowly armed myself with a repertoire of verses regarding this, ‘When I am weak, He is strong’, ‘Do not cast away your confidence, for it has great reward’, ‘Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’, ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support’, I am a ‘new creation, behold, all things have become new!’, ‘we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’, ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’, ‘While you were yet formed, I knew you’, ‘you are precious and honoured in My sight, and I love you, and will give men in exchange for you’, ‘I am the apple of His eye’…
Actually this is the first time of just ‘collating’ my collection of such verses, from the top of my head at that. Even in retrospect, it is encouraging to remember these verses, of the word of God that is living and powerful.
But it is not actually the point. Over time I had stopped meditating on these verses and had allowed my confidence to easily be overturned by the things that were happening around me. Furthermore, I found myself knowing my intrinsic worth, and what I meant to God, but I had never understood my worth to other people.
But then I remembered something which Dr Robi preached in my church several years ago.
‘Without vision, men perish. A lot of times in our lives we shine the spotlight on ourselves, looking to our needs and our wants. It’s only natural. But when the spotlight is on ourselves, we lose vision; we lost our sight. The only way to regain our sight is by taking the torchlight and pointing it to the people around us. This way, we have vision, and we do not perish.’
I sincerely believe that this is the foundation of our confidence. I don’t know what I mean to other people – my peers, my friends, people I work with. But that’s hardly important. Because what’s important is taking that torchlight and shining it on them, their needs, their aspirations, and doing what is in our position and capacity to serve them. To give what has been given to us. This way, we never need to worry about what we mean to other people, because that is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to serve, and show them what they mean to us and to God.
This is tied a lot to the previous one. Yet in another way not so.
I remember the very revelational Emerge Varsity camp last december. Pastor Tan started by asking us a simple question: ‘What is greatness?’
We all have lots of dreams and aspirations. Many of us are capable people. Some of us still don’t believe that and we are constantly told and have to remind ourselves that we are great, and are destined to be great. So we try to keep imagining that sort of greatness, and try to believe that we ourselves indeed hold that capacity. For me, I have been told to believe that I am great, or if not, to believe that God has a great plan for my life. My cell group leader has told me, during times of ministry, that God has a plan for me beyond what I can even think or imagine. I have had visions of myself, maybe in 10-15 years, standing on a stage and speaking to a large congregation. And this whole time I’ve been trying to live up and measure up to these standards of greatness.
I don’t even have to tell you that his answer was so far from the earlier conceptions of greatness.
“Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)
We are only great if we are able to humble ourselves, to bend our back to serve the least. Above it is said, unless we become as little children, we cannot even enter the kingdom of heaven, much less become great.
Of course I didn’t take this easily. I guess I am easily conceited about my own abilities, and I’ve had moments where I thought that I was better than other people. There were instances where I felt the thrill of being mean to others, and being self-righteous. I took pride in stuff like that. Occasionally.
I had to wrestle with God’s word for some days, before I finally gave in and conceded, that this was the truth and it was God’s way. That I had been wrong about greatness all along.
I still need time and again to be grounded in the realisation that while grace was given to me to elevate my self worth, it is the same grace that gives me the capacity to have humility. And to always carry with me that humility, knowing that by the flesh I am prone to disliking, dismissing and disregarding people.
It was another of those typical sian days .. and I realised that I hadn’t been harbouring the joy of the Lord in my heart.
The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
The joy of the Lord is that which the world cannot take away.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodes a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)
I see this year, indeed very seriously, as the last year of my teens.
I remember going for an altar call some years ago, and promising God that I would devote my youth to Him. I wanted to look back in the future and be assured, knowing that I had given the best years of my life to Him. My one and only youth.
Over time, I did all sorts of things with this promise except the one most important thing – to fulfil it. I ignored it. I became afraid of it. I felt that this promise demanded too much from me, and I’d rather be mediocre than fulfil God’s promises for my life.
But this year is different. It is His, and it is all for Him. This year, Christ is enough for me. This is the year that I commit my life wholly to Him and let Him deal with it as He pleases. This year, I’m seeking that “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I’m also putting aside a couple of things that I’d normally desire, so that, this year, Jesus can be my one true love.
(Of course, after this year also, lah.)
I always start out wanting to write 5 words and I write like 500.
But this is my heart and soul for the year.
What is yours?