With January upon us, we all cast about for resolutions; we are resolved that we will forgo, forgive, improve, or conquer, aided by a clean calendar and the fresh airs of a new year. At the same time, we look back with some regret at the cruel rapidity of time and our slipshod performances of last New Year’s resolutions. Somehow, we ran out of calendar before attaining those lofty goals.
Each new year, we’re forced to admit some degree of failure. We see the besetting sins, the broken relationships and bad habits that weigh us down—often measured in pounds—and know instinctively that the old ways just won’t do. Even if we didn’t quite fail, we still envisage a better self or happier lot. We make our list, set our alarms and go forth with some trepidation: will New Year’s energy sustain our good intentions to the end?
If ever there is a yearly reminder of the yawning chasm between Creator and creature, New Year’s is it. We mortals must reinvent or recalibrate each year, while the living God stays his indomitably perfect course. Only our own, fallen selves need improvement; only we must wonder what our best efforts will finally yield. To accomplish our plans, we must change; but to accomplish his, God must not.
This isn’t to belittle the practice of making resolutions. Despite our uneven success, there is wisdom in surveying the past year and resolving to live the next one with greater purpose and fruitful endeavors. God himself has arranged time in orderly intervals that gently invite us to remember and renew; and where we’ve come up short, his new year offers fresh starts and second chances. The relentless march of time still offers some grace.
Herein also lies a comforting truth about our inscrutable God. The self-existent God, who transcends time yet is present in our own, never fails to accomplish any of his resolutions. He never changes, never learns or unlearns, and never requires improvements. What he resolved before he built this world will always come to pass; the word of our God will stand forever.
This may, for some, inspire cold imaginations of God as an iron-clad executor of a frightening sovereign will. He is surely that powerful, but he is so much more; his will, which may seem “a frowning providence,” is always for our good. His hand is neither that of a disinterested watchmaker nor a burdened Atlas, just keeping time or holding the world aloft.
Instead, the hand that rules the cosmos is the same hand that brings lasting change to our frustrated hearts. In our prodigal badlands, he promises a path to restoration. In our weakness, he promises his strength. In our dreary bondage to sin and addiction, he promises to set us free. In our shameful failings, he offers Christ’s righteousness instead. In place of the world’s passing glories, he offers a richer life in his own, eternal kingdom. And in our new year, as we struggle with our weak wills or failed resolutions, he continues steadfastly to keep every promise in his word.