A New year always comes tumbling in with arms full of fresh promises. There is always a glimmer of hope that this one will be, or has to be, better than the last. Most people are eager to throw out the old and jump into the new, as if turning one page on the calendar of life will erase the smudges of yesterday and offer a clean slate for today and all the tomorrows that follow it. And often, our enthusiasm and faith in such a concept inspires us to not only dream new dreams full of hope, but also to lay new plans for those hopes and dreams.
You’ve seen and heard of such plans for years, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve already got your own set written down for this year. New Year’s Resolutions: goals for the 12 months ahead. It seems so promising from the veranda of this first day of the year, so very possible that we will indeed be successful in all we have set our hearts and minds to do, doesn’t it? We will push hard, we will stay strong and determined, we will overcome any obstacles that get in our way! Indeed, there is the gift of gusto built into these first days and weeks of each new year. We are, it seems, wired to start over well.
But can we do more than start well? Can we also finish well? How do we keep the outlook and attitude that we begin with, all the way through? How do we actually meet with success, when it has been proven and demonstrated time and time again that most – if not all – of our New Year’s Resolutions will not actually be achieved?
I’m not trying to squash anyone’s dreams, but I’ve learned with time that dreaming does not equal accomplishing, and determination does not equal success. I have both tried my best, and fallen far short of my goals, as well as lost my faith and enthusiasm in a dream and let it roll off into the abyss of hopes not worthy of the work required. Both of these outcomes have proven to yield crushing disappointment as the stamp of failure left its mark on my heart once again.
It is fun to set new goals, and then employ ourselves in the direction of those goals. But it’s not so fun to slowly yet surely lose our momentum and let go of those new pursuits when the rest of reality comes riding in. Often, when we make our plans for the new year, we do so blindly, as if we have a blank calendar in front of us just waiting for whatever our hearts desire to stamp on it. But the truth is, the reality is, that whatever plans we make, those plans will have to be worked into the lives – the hours and days and weeks and months – which are already chock full of plans we have made in the previous year(s). This means there is likely not much room for the new plans we are dreaming up, unless we do some serious work in clearing out and cleaning up our schedules.
Not to mention that there are bound to be some surprises that show up in the 12 months ahead, and only God knows when and where and what those will look like – and how they will interrupt the fresh, new plans we have made.
So then, what are we to do, as we set out to reach new horizons in 2018? Is there anything that can help us to be more successful than we have been in past years? In fact, there is! The secret of success in this whole goal-making thing is that, while we can – and should – dream and plan for great things, all of our dreaming and planning should be done with God’s generous, precise guidance.
In all honesty, dreaming and planning without God has been for me a bit like wildly shooting arrows at an unseen target. I have to admit that very few of them have landed where I’d hoped they would. But dreaming and planning with God (a practice I began a number of years ago) has been more like having a life coach come in and point me in the right direction, plus walk beside me and train me to shoot the right arrows at the right time at the right target, which is much more visible with His help.
The Bible says that, while a man (or woman) can make many plans, in the end it is the Lord’s plans which are established (Proverbs 19:21). After years of unsuccessfully spending my time and hope and energy trying to reach goals I had set for myself, God handed me a key which has changed everything. He invited me to ask Him about what His plans for my life are at the beginning of each year, and then to work with Him as He accomplished those plans.
I can honestly say that, since I started dreaming and planning with God, I have never been disappointed! Even when life has become busy and overwhelming and I have laid aside my efforts to accomplish goals, God has remained busy and intentional at doing what He said He would do. And I have been delighted to find, at the end of each year, that the goal (or goals) has (have) been accomplished.
If you would like more than just a temporary reason to get excited, more than just a gust of hope to catapult you out of the old and into the new, God has a key for you today. If you would like 2018 to hold more than your own intentions, and yield more than disappointment and distress, this is your turning point.
Take a few minutes today and ask the God Who created you, Who knows everything about you and everything about the year ahead of you, what He has planned for you this year. Because then, you can spend the whole year unwrapping that gift, and spending your time, hope and energy on something that will actually bring joy and deep satisfaction – not to mention a great increase in faith!
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, I bless you today to bring your year and your life before God, seeking His will, His help and His direction. And I bless you to discover the secret of success in all your plans, as you commit your ways to Him and begin to see them accomplished with great ease and deep fulfillment. May your 2018 be absolutely amazing, and may you share this secret with other women, so that we can be successful and satisfied together!