I’m a bit of an “A-Type” personality. I straighten things that aren’t lined up on my desk, I take my coffee the same way at the same time each day, and my life is dictated by to-do lists.
So you can bet I’m making resolutions for the new year. In fact, I’ve already got a little list drafted up on my phone.
Maybe you’re like me. Or maybe you’re the type who used to make resolutions, except they lasted all of five seconds, so you have become wary of them.
Resolutions don’t need to be earth-shattering, amazing, or even drastic “New Year, New Me” endeavours, which often can be insurmountable.
As Christians, a big part of how we approach the new year is tied up in our faith. How do we want to see our relationship with God grow this year? How do we want to navigate our lives in light of our belief in Jesus Christ? How do we journey in such a way that we become closer to Him, rather than further away?
Here are my three suggestions:
Drink more water. Eat healthier. Make time for rest.
You’re probably thinking, “What? These sound like generic resolutions, not spiritual goals that contribute to intimacy with God.”
I’m inviting you to explore these with me, within the context of our faith in Jesus, as I believe they will be foundational in changing your walk with God in the next 12 months.
1. Drink more water
In John 7:37-39 (NLT), we read these words from Jesus:
Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart. (When He said, “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him…)
The imagery of thirst speaks of weariness, exhaustion, longing, and the need for something to quench them. Yet it is so tempting to reach for things other than the Holy Spirit to remedy that thirst. We go on a wild goose chase pursuing the right job, the right home, and the life partner—among other things—assured that if we have them, we will finally be contented.
For me, it’s like how I’m better at drinking coffee than I am at drinking water because coffee seems more effective in helping me function.
Psalm 42:1-2 describes it beautifully: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, oh God. My soul thirsts for God, the Living God”.
God knows our deepest thirst is for Him, which is why He’s sent His very Spirit, to dwell in our hearts. We need to drink more of the Living Water if we want to grow in intimacy with God.
This means making time and space for the Holy Spirit, by consciously inviting Him into the moments we need His assistance, but also, just sitting and dwelling with Him, engaging with His residence within us; after all, our bodies are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).
How do we do this practically?
In the last few months, I’ve set aside a specific time to be quiet before God and to wait on His Holy Spirit in the mornings before work. Every day, I set my alarm and sit at our dining table and gather myself together with God. The result has been amazing, and I now find myself starting the day with a full tank, rather than one that’s rushed and frantic.
It’s all about preparing and leaving more space for God to speak to us.
2. Eat healthier
In the coming year, I challenge you to eat better, which has two applications.
First, the obvious one—get into your Bible. There are many references for God’s Word being like food to us. “How sweet are your words”, Psalm 119:97-104 says, “sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Hebrews 5:14 talks about how, as we mature in our faith, we need to consume “solid food”, meaning deeper teaching.
The imagery of food is so central to our faith that Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Yet it can be so easy to become a Christian who does not “eat”, one who does not reach for the Bible on the daily.
When I was little, I only ever ate carrots as a treat food. My uncle once offered me a Pinky Bar (a marshmallow chocolate bar with caramel) or a carrot as a treat, and I famously picked a carrot.
These days, however, I’m more inclined to reach for the Pinky Bar. On a weekend my husband was away, I seemed to have eaten only burgers for the entire two days (I’m exaggerating but only very slightly).
Why don’t we want to eat our spiritual carrots? Well, they’re a little boring compared to the excitement of spiritual Pinky Bars, or other things we can fill our time and energy with.
Friend, here’s the hard truth: the only way to desire to eat spiritual carrots is to develop a habit of eating them. When we create habits, we realign our tastes and cultivate desires for the right things.
This brings me to the second application—be careful of what other “eating” habits we form.
Society tells us that we can play with things on the fringe—television shows, movies, books, or music that we know aren’t quite what we should be consuming—and that it will not affect us.
Recently I was determined to make my husband like this particular show I used to watch. But the more we watched, the more I became aware of all the inappropriate jokes, which used to not bother me. Eventually, we decided to stop watching because it just felt yucky.
Take a sage view of what you’re letting in through your eyes, ears and heart, and how they may be impacting your spiritual appetite.
3. Make time (not scraps!) to rest
We’re a generation who find it hard to rest. I’d say that my Sabbath isn’t so much a “day” as it is small pockets of time—where there isn’t anything screaming for my attention—ranging between five minutes to an hour, that’ll hopefully add up to one “Sabbath day” at the end of the week.
Not to mention I am constantly tempted away from “rest” by other things that are the lived equivalent of laying curled up in bed, losing myself down a rabbit hole of watching cat videos.
When the disciples were told off for eating grain on the Sabbath, Jesus replied to the scolding, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:23-27).
The Sabbath is something that has been designed for our own good. Our bodies were designed for spiritual and physical rest, and we often miss how significant that need for rest is to our holistic well-being.
Resting means we’re going to have to decide to not do some stuff, and some of it will be the fun things, like (for me) seeing friends, going to the mall, or the other things I enjoy.
It isn’t that we can’t enjoy ourselves, but to loosely paraphrase 1 Corinthians 10:23, there are many things we “can” do, but just because we “can” do it, doesn’t mean we should.
We can often equate being busy with being successful or doing the right things, and this trickles over into our spiritual lives. Jesus addresses this in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha is frantic, trying to ensure everything is ready and in order for Jesus, while her sister Mary sits at Jesus’s feet. Exasperated, Martha asks Jesus to tell her sister to get to work, and Jesus instead says Mary is making the better choice by being where she is.
This story is a reminder that being busy doesn’t directly correlate to doing the right things. Sometimes practically, but even spiritually, we must slow down so we can still ourselves before the Lord.
Maybe for 2023, we need to look for “cliché” resolutions—drink more water, eat well, rest lots—and look at it as going back to the basics and getting them right. I hope and pray 2023 will be an awesome, testimony year for you. One where you will look back on and say, “Thank God for His closeness in that season,” rather than, “It was just another year.”