January 1, 2023

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

New Year’s Resolutions

Have you ever wondered who had the overhead bright-idea bulb to make a new year’s resolution?

Wonder no more. Word on the street is, (actually, according to most historians) it seems this lightning bolt of inspiration first zapped the Babylonians about 4,000 years ago. Only they didn’t get started until mid-March after crop planting. They pledged to pay off debts to their gods and promised to give back things they’d borrowed. Who knows how that panned out?

Fast forward a number of years to Caesar who extended the year to 455 days and proclaimed January 1 as the start of the new year. While he was at it, he added an extra day to the calendar every four years (we know it as Leap Year), so the calendar would align with the Earth’s revolution around the sun.

January is named after the Roman god Janus, the god of “doorways, arches and new beginnings.” The Romans made offerings to him, hopeful for good fortune. Hmmm. Wishful thinking at best.

Centuries later, and many changes to the calendar later, Merriam Webster was convinced the phrase, “New Year Resolution” was first used in a Boston newspaper in 1813.

Who to believe? But maybe the question is, who cares who started this whole thing? What began as resolve to better conduct, in a sense, still holds to that standard. However, historians don’t have a date when resolutions shifted from religious to non-religious.

So, Here We Are Today . . .

If you are one who makes new year’s resolutions, most likely it is to better yourself. Accomplish goals. Repair relationships. Establish new relationships. The possibilities are endless. But our energy and commitment aren’t. Unfortunately, they evaporate as we chug ahead. We lose steam. Kind of like the little choo-choo struggling to the top of the rise. Sometimes our resolutions feel like that—an impossible uphill climb.

My Climb, Up . . . Up . . . Up

Which reminds me of the time I locked myself out of the house—with my car keys inside. Living in a rural area, I had a 15-mile commute to work, and my husband had already left. My mind swirled with solutions. The best of which was to climb in our second-story, unlatched window. But, it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill second-story. Our house sat on a hill, with the downward slope on the window side.

I sized up the challenge, then went to the thankfully unlocked garage to retrieve a 30-foot extension ladder. Man was it heavy and unwieldly, especially since I was in heels and a dress, ready to go to work. I drug more than carried the ladder to the side of the house and looked up. Man was it a long way up there!

No matter. Better get to it. I propped the ladder against the siding and tried to slide it up, up, up. Still a long ways to go. Okay, extension needed. One by one, I slid the rungs up. Clank, clank, clank. The metal ladder grew heavier with each clunk. And more unmanageable. Sweat beaded on my face and trickled under my arms. Still a looong ways to go.

I can’t do this.

Yes, you can.

The verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” zipped through my mind.

So, with each push and shove and lift, I repeated these words, spurred on by their encouragement.

Finally, the top rung of the ladder hit the bottom of the window ledge. However, now I had to climb waaay up there. I am afraid of heights. And the ladder was less than steady. In fact, it dipped in the section where the extension joined.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

One step at a time. The ladder wobbled and shifted. Again and again, I claimed the Bible promise.

I was sweating all over. Don’t look down.

At last I arrived at the pane. (Or pain?)

Pushing up on the glass, I prayed pretty fervently and was able to get my fingers in the gap to raise it a little. Then a little more. Aha! Enough space appeared for me to crawl through.

Once inside, I dropped to the floor, my rubber-band legs and arms giving out.

All that to say this . . .

You can always turn to your Creator, God of the Bible. You never have to go it alone. No matter what you are attempting, He is there to help.

So when you flag, wane, droop, weary, or whatever your state is in pursuit of your new year’s resolution, I invite you to embrace the following verses to renew your resolve, reinstate your vigor, restore your verve, and reestablish your momentum:

“With God I can scale any wall.”—Psalm 18:29 (NRSVA) (I wish I’d known this verse back then.)

“. . . ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”—Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

May you be richly blessed in the coming year as you reach your goals, partnering with Him who loves and strengthens you.