A resolution is not a good intention. It is not a half-hearted “maybe I’ll give this a shot.” We all know how such intentions end: aborted. And quickly. A half-hearted intention is usually a functional intention to quit. A resolution is a tenacious yes to something you really want.
Resolved people are, by definition, resolute. They are willing to pay a strenuous and demanding price to achieve a desired joy set before them. Resolved people will not allow deterrents and distractions to ultimately prevent them from their goal, whereas irresolute people end up being driven and tossed by circumstantial winds and whims.
Necessary, Revealing, Costly, Dangerous
Resolutions are necessary. Nothing difficult is accomplished without them, which includes almost everything worth doing or having.
Resolutions also are revealing because they demand devotion, and we cannot willingly devote ourselves to something we don’t really want (at least not for long). So, what we resolve to pursue reveals what our hearts really desire.
And since we are so finite, we are forced to choose only a few serious pursuits. That means a resolution is costly, because it demands a portion of our most valuable assets: love (devotion) and time. It requires us to say no to many other enjoyable things in order to say a tenacious yes to a joy and prize we consider superior to others.
The necessary, revealing, and costly nature of resolutions makes them dangerous. For not all strenuous, time-and-attention-demanding, and promising achievements are ultimately worth doing or having. Some promises turn out to be empty. Some impressive feats are a waste of life.
What Do Your Resolves Say?
To not resolve anything puts us in danger of drifting. To resolve something puts us in danger of wasting our time and devotion in vain. That’s life. It’s simply dangerous.
But this should not paralyze us. We must let it force us to ask the hard questions over and over again. Before we decide to spend precious, fleeting life on anything else, perhaps we need to take a good look at our spending habits. Like money, but even more than money, how we spend our time reveals what we think is worth spending our valuable life on. Sometimes our resolves (or lack of them) reveal how we’re deceived, living as if we have an endless amount of hours to spend pursuing what we enjoy, when we only have a relative handful. We’ll get to those harder, more demanding resolves someday. Someday.
Before I let any more somedays pass, I’ve decided I need a resolve audit. I need to tighten up my time budget. I need to refocus my resolves. I need to pursue less resolves more — and many resolves less.
Actually, what I want to pursue more seriously than I ever have is what Jesus told Martha is the one necessary thing.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)
Mary sat quietly listening carefully to Jesus while “Martha was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:39–40). I’m haunted by this brief story because as much as I wish I were like Mary, I’m too much like Martha. I fear I would have chosen the same distractions if I had been in Martha’s place.
How do you have all those guests in your house and ignore how the place looks and what you will serve and what everyone needs? There’s only one way: if the one necessary thing enthralls you more. If he does not enthrall you, you are likely to give yourself to distracting resolves. That’s certainly the way it works with me.
I find it somewhat troubling that Jesus let Martha give herself to lesser resolves, resolves that looked outwardly commendable but revealed inner anxiety and trouble, until Martha finally said something. We should not assume we’re giving ourselves to the best things, and that Jesus will tell us if we’re not. If we are not communing with God like we know we should, it is likely time to go to him and ask what’s wrong.
If we do, we must prepare to hear the worst. For asking Jesus what’s wrong will likely result in him revealing our affections and priorities — our resolves — to be more disordered than we thought. We must prepare to count the cost. The one necessary thing will demand all of our most valuable assets. The Pearl costs it all (Matthew 13:45–46). “Selling” what we have loved and given life to feels dangerous in the audit phase. But the truth is we must say no to our many joys to say a tenacious yes to the one great Joy. It’s in the selling that the worth of the Pearl is revealed.
What Will You Seek?
Our resolves are not necessarily the goals we have set. They are what we won’t allow other things to interfere with. They are not our good intentions; they are our determinations, the real life dictators of how we spend our time.
I’m not altogether sure how my reordered resolves will look yet. That’s okay; careful audits take time. And God is not bound by our calendars or clocks.
It seems wise to meditate on texts like these:
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
The Bible makes it clear that there’s only one necessary thing. And it points us to one great resolve: to seek that One Thing with all our being. Which means all our resolutions should serve that one great, tenacious yes.
Is this what you’re seeking?