The New Year is also a time to review more general life goals. So as January rolls around, I take out my 3 x 5 card for 2012 and check out the goals I wrote down a year ago. I can quickly see that I’ve fallen short in a few areas but in spite of arthritic knees I have been able to walk 30 minutes a day, four out of seven days. Okay, I’ve missed the mark on some of my writing goals and I need to achieve more balance in my reading between fiction and non-fiction. My spiritual goals are a little harder to evaluate. After evaluation comes making a new list of goals for 2013.
Many decide that since most of their New Year’s resolutions will be broken, it’s better not to make any. Just let life unfold from day to day. That kind of relaxed approach to life doesn’t work for me. I need something to shoot for, even if I fall short. After all, didn’t Paul say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil3:14).
But I can see two problems with my goal-setting. First, I tend to set unrealistic goals and multiply the number of goals. Clearly, I need to pare down the number and make them more realistic.
Secondly, I need to distinguish between goals and prayer requests. Goals can only be set for areas where I am responsible to take action. For example; taking exercise, writing, learning networking, making reading choices, getting rid of clutter, and so on. But other areas where I desire change, can only be achieved if the Lord wills. Only He can see that my new suspense novel, Riptide, is published by a royalty publisher. Only He can provide opportunities to preach and teach. And, although I can set goals for daily prayer and Bible reading, only He can turn spiritual principles into character qualities so that I can be more conformed to the image of Christ.
Unlike some pundits of positive thinking, I know that determining our future by setting goals is not what faith means. We will need flexibility and faith to accept, as from Him, the ups and downs that come our way in the New Year. God is sovereign. He knows best what I need. Fortunately, “He leadeth me, o blessed thought, o words with heavenly comfort fraught.” And so, may God give us a balance between actively doing what we know to be His will and passively accepting the mysterious unfolding of His purposes.