RITE OF PASSAGE: New Year’s resolutions
I didn’t make any New Year resolutions this year-at least, not yet. After all, I am still working on the resolutions I made back in 1999 (not to mention the ones from 2000-2007). Why add any more to my list?
I began to wonder: when does the New Year actually start? A church where I used to serve started its new calendar in October. The children had to wait until then to move up to the next grade in Sunday School. At that same church, the minister of education tried to get the senior adult women to tell their ages so he could put them into their appropriate classes. I have not witnessed so much lying since . . . well, I have never seen that much. My mom put down a different year every time. Pretty soon, no one knew how old she really was. Eventually, they just renamed the class “On to Glory.” Funny thing-that young minister of education left the church before too many more months went by.
For a little while, I even thought about letting my family make my New Year’s resolutions for me. I can only imagine their list: “This year, Dad shouldn’t tell any stories. We have already heard them at least a hundred times.” “This year, Dad should exercise more and eat less.” “This year, Dad should finally throw away his old socks and underwear.” “This year, Dad should take the words ‘Back in the old days’ out of his vocabulary.” “This year, Dad should use some of that black dye stuff on his moustache.”
“This year, Dad needs to quit writing about everything our family does. We can’t go across the street without it appearing in the Baptist Messenger.”
Yes, these are the resolutions my family might have made for me . . . but if they really loved me, and I mean love with a capital “L,” they might make some New Year’s resolutions for me that went more like this: “This year, Dad needs to get a bigger plasma TV set.” “This year, Dad needs to take six months off, and we will rent him a house on the beach in the Bahamas.” “This year, Dad needs to have some grandchildren!”
I even thought about letting my staff make my New Year’s resolutions. If that happened, the resolutions would probably sound more like: “This year, Walker should double each staff member’s pay.” “This year, Walker should give every staff member an extra week of paid vacation.” “This year, Walker should provide a new car for each staff member.” Since I have chosen to follow the calendar from my former church, I have a few months to think on these.
At last I began to consider what might happen if I gave Jesus a blank sheet of paper and asked Him to give me 10 New Year’s resolutions. What would He write?
Immediately, He brought the life of Peter to mind. When Jesus first came to Peter, all he said was three words: “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4:19) Right away, we see Peter dropping his net and following Christ. As the story continues, we see Peter’s rise and fall. We see him becoming a part of the inner circle. We see him on the Mount of Transfiguration, experiencing things that the other disciples miss. Then we see the tragic scene where he denies Christ three times and weeps bitterly. We fast forward a little and see an empty tomb where the angel says, “Go tell the disciples and Peter that Christ is risen.” We then see Peter and Jesus on the seashore, having a dialogue about how much Peter loves his Master. As they reach the end of their conversation, Jesus says just two words …”Follow Me.” No more, no less. Just . . . “Follow Me.”
Sometimes, we make the Christian life so complicated. At the beginning of their journey together, all Jesus asked Peter to do was “Follow Me.” He said the very same words to Peter at the end of his time on Earth: “Follow Me.” In our humanness, when we hear something like this, we want to ask a thousand questions: “Where?” “When?” “How?” “Why?” Jesus answers every one of these the same way: “Follow Me.”
In my mind, I watched Jesus handing back my list of resolutions. It read just like this: “1. “Follow Me.” 2. “Follow Me.” 3. “Follow Me.” 4. “Follow Me.” 5. “Follow Me.” 6. “Follow Me.” 7. “Follow Me.” 8. “Follow Me.” 9. “Follow Me.” 10. “Follow Me.””
Maybe that’s the best resolution for each of us and our families to make in 2008. Just . . . follow Him.