Because life is a series of edits

New Year’s Revolution

In Calling, Holidays on January 1, 2009 at 5:09 am

There's a saying I like that goes like this:

"Great people talk about ideas.
Average people talk about things.
Small people talk about each other."

One of my favorite "great people" in the Bible is Nehemiah, a man God used to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem and the Temple so that Old Testament Israel could safely return to that city. So much of how and why Nehemiah did what he did can be found in the first chapter of his book:

"The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, 'The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.'

4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, m confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.

8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’

10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Three things stick out to me:
  1. Nehemiah pondered what God had done (past)
  2. Nehemiah prayed to learn what God was doing (present)
  3. Nehemiah planned for what God would do (future)
But Nehemiah did more than talk about ideas; he did something with them. Consider Nehemiah 4:9 and his description of how they worked to rebuild the wall in the face of opposition:

"And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night."

In other words, planning takes wonder, but planning also takes work. We can dream about the possibilities, but calculating what goes into them (and then working the equation to bring them into reality) has to be included as well.

On the dawn of a New Year, real change often goes beyond just making resolutions; it requires revolution – "a sudden, complete, or radical change in something; a procedure or course back to a starting point." The difference between resolution and revolution is one letter – "v" – which in my own life I think of as standing for "violence," as we must take hold of our lives – sometimes violently if necessary – in order to see change take place.

As you consider 2009, let me encourage you with some practical steps to experience some impractical results (i.e. things God would do) in your New Year. For instance:
  • Be "romantic." That is, use time's markings to measure yourself and take an inventory (good, bad, or ugly). New Year's Day is a great start to this; birthdays and holidays can be as well. In general, establish some frequent benchmarks of evaluation to help evaluate your life experience. 
  • Be Word-centered. Maybe there's a personal theme for the year that sticks out as one you want/need to focus on (mine for 2009 is holiness). There are probably some books – of the Bible, on your shelf, through Amazon – that lend themselves to that focus, as within those books may be key passages to be memorized and meditated upon not just until you've got them, but until they've got you.
  • Be reflective. Give yourself permission and time to think, to feel, to process. Model reflection to others in order to challenge your own. Write things down and re-read them periodically as you go. Talk with others and invite them into your endeavors. Most importantly, talk with God, as He's the one who gave you the thoughts and feelings in the first place.
  • Be purposeful. In other words, do it now. Books only get read when they're read; ideas only get recorded when they're written down. Identify a few purposes for the year, make some monthly objectives to accomplish those, and then break down the weekly and daily steps to get them done (often it's not the work but figuring out what the work is that's hard). What's next? Do them!
May God give success and grant mercy in your pursuits, and may 2009 be in this way a very happy New Year indeed.
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  1. Nick, I have no idea what you’re wanting me to see with your link. Help?

  2. Does the link not work for you? Or is it just my sense of humor that doesn’t work?
    The author presents 4 New Year’s resolutions. I thought they were funny. I also thought they were the exact opposite of your suggestions…which makes it funny to post as a comment to your post (at least to me).
    Happy new year!

  3. Okay, I get it now (though the screen resolution settings really threw me for a loop). I put the “melon” in “melonhead.”

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