“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
Ah, January 1. Every year it comes around. Every year, people all over the world make New Year’s Resolutions: finally get organized, lose those 10 pounds, spend more time with family. Buoyed by guilt or good feelings from the holidays, we tackle these worthy goals with good intentions. We might even last a month or two before the patterns of our old life overtake us. (It’s well known that the true gym users hate January because it’s so much harder to find space, yet they’re back to normal by March.) On the other hand, some of us don’t even make it to January 2.
But every year, we try again. Why? Because we know that, in whatever area we’re tackling, we can do better. We benefit from a defined goal and a shared journey with a notable starting point. Let me propose, then, that we tackle a resolution of far more lasting value than getting organized (although I do mean to get organized this year…). This could be the year you figure out your life.
Wouldn’t you love to know the will of God? I think we all want a little more clarity when it comes to what we’re supposed to be doing. God tells us how: by the renewing of our minds. And how do we do that? By feeding our minds the truth instead of the same old lies on repeat. Paul tells Timothy to trust “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:15b-16 NIV).
Now – and it may seem unfortunate to us – God’s word “is a lamp for my feet” (Psalm 119:105 NIV): a light that keeps my next few steps from stumbling, not a TripTik complete with markings for all the rest stops on my journey. Believe me, I have often longed for the latter! But God’s promise that we’ll be able to discern his will doesn’t mean that he’s going to lay out a life-long road map that assures us of smooth sailing.
An alternate translation of Romans 12:2 reads, “so that you may prove what the will of God is” (NASB, emphasis added). Scientifically speaking, “proving” means forming a hypothesis and testing it in a repeatable experiment. That’s not unlike what we do to determine God’s will. We form a hypothesis by reading Scripture, listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and talking to godly people around us. Then we take a step forward. We are constantly watching and listening, testing and proving, waiting for inspiration in the moment and confirmation that we’re on the right path.
This year, instead of (or in addition to) making a resolution, you can aim for a new perspective. Rather than focusing on what you’re doing, focus on listening to God – through Scripture, through the Holy Spirit, and through those around you. It will lift your eyes to the one whose will is perfect, including his perfect plan for life (or at least your next few moments).
Abigail promises she didn’t intend for this to be an advertising campaign for Keith Ferrin’s 2015 Bible Read-Through, but it sure seems like a happy coincidence (to the extent that she believes in coincidence). Seriously, if you are looking for a chance to soak in Scripture, with the support of other people, that may be just the opportunity you’re looking for. But if it’s not, don’t let that stop you from renewing your mind and transforming your perspective in other ways.