Robin's Blog

No More Resolutions

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I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.

All those lists of “I will do this” or “I will not do that” feel foolish to me. I made lists when I was young and still believed I had control over my future, my health, my writing schedule and my relationships.

The truth is, I don’t have control. God does.

I have commitments and I have responsibilities. I have disciplines and I have options. I set goals and I schedule deadlines. But I do not have control. So why would I start each year lining up all the wild circus animals in my life and think that the simple act of putting them in a row now makes them required to obey me?

James was the one who got me thinking about all this. You know, James, the half brother of Jesus. In chapter 4 of his letter James wrote:

You get a certain pride in yourself in planning your future with such confidence. That sort of pride is all wrong.

Earlier in that chapter James said:

You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit—you only want to satisfy your own desires.

Those two passages sum up why I no longer make a list of resolutions. A law-like list of do’s and don’t’s breeds in me the wrong sort of pride when I succeed and the wrong spirit when I fail. I want to live in the unforced rhythms of grace.

One of the ways that grace is unfolding in my life is through what now happens on the pages of my journals every January. I know this is going to sound mysterious, and it is. Instead of resolutions, I write a question. One question. It’s always the same question every year:

Father God, what do You want to accomplish through me in the year ahead?

I have to set aside a day to be alone when I ask that question because as I listen for the answer, I start writing in my journal. What flows onto the pages comes from a contrite and vulnerable heart. If you’ve ever had one of those, you know how messy they can be. It’s humbling to relinquish control of all your schemes and plans and say again as Mary said to the angel Gabriel:

“I belong to the Lord, body and soul . . . let it happen as you say.”

That’s when the mysterious part happens. My hand follows my heart and ideas turn into words. I soon discover that the words are really dreams. Dreams I didn’t dare to speak out loud. Dreams I didn’t know that my spirit longed for. Dreams that become planted in my heart at the start of that new year like trees planted in an orchard.

Which ones will bear fruit? I never know.

Which ones have been transplanted to this page from a previous year? Always a few.

Will this be the year when a long hoped for dream will finally blossom? I don’t know. I’ll watch and see.

God sees the whole picture. I see only this moment. That’s why it seems futile to make resolutions.

“But though God has planted eternity in the hearts of men, even so, many cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When I dream . . . or should I say, when I dare to dream . . . I step into the realm of the eternal that God has planted in my heart. I surrender fully to His ways and His timing. I see Him unfolding his plan and accomplishing what seemed impossible. I watch Him get all the glory. By the end of each year, I look at the orchard of dreams and sit before Him in silent awe of His greatness and His goodness.

I don’t make resolutions. I dream.

Over the next few weeks I’d like to share a few more thoughts with you on how God might be planting eternity in your heart every time you dare to dream a new dream. I hope you check back often.

Aloha nui loa.

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  • Laura

    What a great perspective on New Years. You dare me to dig deeper. Happy New Year to you Robin, my absolute favorite author!

    • Stacey

      Digging deeper! That’s it! I have been trying to describe what it is about Robin’s work that moves me. It makes me dig deeper into my faith and my relationship with Jesus…well, He is empowering me through what I have been reading, at least. :)

      • Yes! More digging! Who can fathom the depths of His love for us? The more you dig, the more you’ll feel His unending love for you, Stacey.

    • Keep digging deeper, Laura. As deep as you dig, God’s mysterious ways are deeper still.

  • Olivia Shaw

    Thank you for such beautiful words of wisdom. May your New Year be blessed with the Love and Light of Christ daily. Thank you for all you do to uplift the body of Christ. Aloha. I dare to dream of one day travelling to Hawaii God willing!

    • Dare to dream, Olivia. Those dreams are in your heart because the Lord planted them there. Who knows when they will blossom and bear fruit. But they are planted in you by your loving Heavenly Father.

  • Holly Michael

    Love this Robin. Wow! This is how love to roll, too. Wonderful words of wisdom on how we should be at the beginning of a new year, before our Lord.

  • Alannah

    Oh Robin, you have the most beautiful way with words! Thank you so much for this! I can hardly believe its a new year! I’m praying that God does His good, pleasing, and perfect will in my life this year, and you, Robin, are all a part of that. I was in a bad place, but then I started reading your books again this year, and I found my way back to God in the past week before this new year because of it. So thank you, Robin :) Have the most blessed year!

    • I love hearing that you are back in a close place with the Lord! God promised us in His Word that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. The year ahead is going to be sweetly God-blessed as you keep trusting in the Lord with ALL your heart!

  • Rebecca Jo Cannon

    Robin, the 1st half made me laugh; in a good way. :). Man oh man God has been speaking this to my heart for quite awhile. I am smiling. I love confirmation. Your suggestions are very helpful, and I will be checking back. Time for me to sit with God – listen & write. Mahalo nui loa.

    • Hi sweet Sisterchick. I love confirmation, too. It’s always such a tender thing when God does that.

  • Dormmom

    I had decided to do this, but was not sure of the direction. This pointed me in the direction I need to take with this time. Plus, my devotional reading in Psalm 32:8 and 9. I would rather be led by His eye than His bit and bridle

    • Great comment, Dormmom. I’m with you. I’d rather be led by His eye than His bit and bridle, too.

  • Tessa Denton

    My family has never done resolutions; my mom used this same reasoning. Yet somehow, with the way you write it, it seems like a new idea to me. Ask a question. THE question. “What do you want me to accomplish?” Not “What will you do in my life?” or “Please do this this year.” You help me embrace God every time I read your blogs. It gives me a wonderful feeling, like the one I feel when I read Christy Millers books. Thank you for that. God has certainly blessed you with writing skills and clever perspectives.

    • Tessa, your words went right to my heart. Thank you. Sounds like your mom and I have similar ways of thinking.

  • Jill Yarbrough

    Oh Robin your words so spoke to my heart tonight. Tear..tear. Thank you friend. I needed to hear that this year.

  • Katie Steiner

    Robin I loved this. Thank you very much. I don’t make resolutions either. I’m not inspired but I never realized why. It very much could be God speaking to me through James but through you. I didn’t think about it it much. I just don’t do it and haven’t for a long time. I’m looking forward to your other thoughts. God Bless! I love your books also!

  • Carla Rodriguez

    Loved this, Robin. I need to dust off my journal and let the Lord show me the dreams He has for me. Oh, to reach that place of maturity and humility to say as Mary did, “I belong to the Lord, body and soul…let it be as you say.” Thank you for sharing this. Your writing has been a long term blessing in my life. ♡

    • Yes! Dust off that journal. Open your Bible. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

  • I love this. I want to sit down and ask that question with my journal open NOW!

  • Madilyn Rehr

    I love this. I have trouble making time for opening up my bible and finding some more verses to highlight. But every time I check my email and find one from one of your blog entries, I can always count on finding a new one to highlight. This entry just makes me want to open up my bible and pray for the amazing plan God has for this next year :)