Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by February. I hear this statistic on an ordinary Friday at the end of an ordinary week. Already my hopes for 2019 feel a bit tarnished. I somehow continue to believe that with the turning of another calendar page everything will be made right. I will magically meet all my goals. I will overcome all my struggles. I will believe it and achieve it.
Instead, I still eat vanilla ice cream right out of the carton. I sometimes wrestle anxiety like a wild alligator. I feel confused by social media and the ever-changing algorithms. Curled up in bed, I tell all this to Jesus, and I ask, “What do You want me to picture as success?” It seems the answer that comes quietly into the dark is, Faithfulness.
This is not the answer our world would give. We’d be told fame or material possessions, climbing the corporate ladder or hitting the best-seller list, staying young forever or getting to sit at the cool table. But in the gospels, the master doesn’t say, “Well done, good and famous servant.” He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
I’m not even going to try for “good” because it’s impossible. I believe that word describes the righteousness of Christ imparted to us through what He did on the cross and through His resurrection. We can’t ever be good enough for God. But faithfulness is our territory.
This morning, I read an endearingly human story about the disciples. Jesus has been crucified. Their lives are in turmoil. They’re unsure of what the future holds. Peter says, “I’m going fishing” (John 21:3). Haven’t we all had those days? We throw up our hands and say, “I’m going to get a latte.” “I’m going shopping.” “I’m going to the gym.” We turn to what we know. The disciples fish all night and catch nothing. Then Jesus appears, although they don’t yet know it’s Him, and He tells them to let out their nets one more time. They catch so many fish they can hardly handle them all.
This is faithfulness. It’s continuing to cast the net because Jesus says so. Even when we’ve been up all night. Even when we’re weary. Even when we’re confused. Even when we’re discouraged and want to quit. Our role is obedience; God’s role is results.
Eugene Peterson described faithfulness as, “A long obedience in the same direction.” It’s not sexy. It doesn’t make headlines. We’re not likely to get awards, applause, or even an abundance of “likes” for it. But faithfulness is quietly, often invisibly, life-altering and world-changing.
I want to be faithful to Jesus for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to use my gift of writing for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to my husband for a lifetime.
I want to be faithful to intentionally cultivate friendships with other women for a lifetime.
I used to think that what mattered most was growth. The difficulty with that is we can’t control growth. God alone is the one who makes things grow (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-7). We are instead invited to be faithful, to plant and water. Out of that naturally comes growth, but we don’t make it happen. That feels like a weight off our shoulders.
If you’re putting pressure on yourself today to do more, be more, or achieve more, then pause and take a deep breath. Just be faithful. If you’re comparing yourself to others in life or ministry and feel you’re falling short, refocus on your own journey. Just be faithful. If you’re striving for perfection and trying to make everyone happy, let go of those unrealistic expectations. Just be faithful.
We don’t need big new year’s resolutions. We don’t need to check every item off our bucket list. We don’t have to prove our worth. Instead, we can simply say, “Jesus, I will do what I can, where I am, in this moment, to love You and others today. Then, I will do it again tomorrow.”
That’s more than another resolution. It’s a tiny, mighty revolution.
If you’d like help going deeper, living freer and feeling more connected this year you’ll find it in Holley’s new podcast, More than Small Talk.
Our role is obedience; God’s role is results. -@HolleyGerth: Click To Tweet