Robin's Blog

No More Resolutions


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.