Over the decades, New Year’s goals have changed my life. Late each year I begin to think and pray about them, carefully trying to choose goals that will have a positive impact on the rest of my life.
This year I have three main goals and achieving them would be transformative.
First of all, I plan to memorize Romans. Yes, the entire 16-chapter letter of Paul to the church in Rome, full of both deep comfort and some of the Bible’s most difficult concepts.
Why would anyone who owns several Bibles, including an ebook and audio version on her phone, bother memorizing what she could look up any time? Well, here’s why: As I was learning more about Romans for our women’s Bible study, I came across a story of a seminary professor who offered all his New Testament students an A if they memorized Romans, even if they did nothing else. Intrigued, I started experimenting with chapter 1 two months ago and can already echo what William Tyndale wrote in his 1534 English New Testament:
No man verily can read it too oft or study it too well; for the more it is studied the easier it is, the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is, and the more groundly it is searched the preciouser things are found in it, so great a treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein.
F.F. Bruce, who wrote a commentary on Romans, included this warning:
There is no saying what may happen when people begin to study the letter to the Romans. What happened to Augustine, Luther, Wesley, and Barth launched great spiritual movements which have left their mark in world history. But similar things have happened, much more frequently, to very ordinary men and women as the words of this letter came home to them with power. So, let those who have read thus far be prepared for the consequences of reading farther….
That warning resonates with me. Yes, in immersing ourselves in God’s Word we are risking change and upheaval—as I have discovered in the past—but we are also growing closer to God and that is, after all, the very purpose of our lives.
Then there is the next goal, walk 10,000 steps every day, on average. Aiming to walk this much each day has changed my life over the past decade, and I remake this resolution every year. With dozens of daily decisions I have regained much strength each time after a major health setback. Last year was difficult for me, health-wise, but I am back to about 7500 steps a day, on average. My goal is to slowly get back to the full 10,000, knowing that each step is an investment in health and thus also in my ability to fulfill the duties God has given me.
And finally, the one other goal that would change a lot: get organized about my nighttime notes. I do have a very organized binder with customized sheets that I regularly adapt to meet different aspects of my life, but I also have many, many little bits of paper. You see, when I think during the night I grab a tiny notepad and write things down in the dark, very quietly so as not to wake my husband. (If I don’t write them down I end up staying awake to remember them, which is even worse.) Some nights are quite productive—to do lists, blog posts, homeschooling ideas, grocery lists, snatches of poetry, the perfect line for a review, another name for my prayer list, an idea to ponder, just the right words for an email….
However, if the next morning is busy I don’t always have the time to finish copying these things onto my main to do list or into an appropriate Word document. And so it is that all over my desk I have growing piles of little white papers, covered with almost illegible nighttime writing. This has got to stop.
Once all of my nighttime writing has been copied into its appropriate place, both my mind and my desk will be clearer and more peaceful and I will forget fewer important things.
So, these are my three goals for 2017. Will I achieve them? Only God knows what will be possible this year and what dreams have to be given up. However, I am convinced that each of these goals is valuable in his sight and that striving to meet them will be worthwhile in itself even if I never complete them. Thus each day I will
- spend some time with Romans,
- remember to take those extra steps, and
- go through that night’s notes, as well as some older ones.
In regards to 2016’s goal of catching up, well, it didn’t happen in the sense I had planned but God used poor health to give me space to catch up in a different way. However, 2015’s goal of connecting has become a vibrant part of who I am and has changed more lives than just mine. Both mindsets, connecting and catching up, are still part of my life, as they should be.
How about you? Are you setting goals this year? Whether you do or purposefully don’t, I wish you God’s blessings as you get to know him better in 2017. May he be close to you and fill you with his gifts of love, joy, and peace.