At this very moment, I write to you from 40,000 feet in the air somewhere between Indianapolis and Los Angeles. It is early, like really early, and this complimentary coffee the flight attendant handed me isn’t exactly cutting it. I am already fantasizing about the proper latte I will be picking up at the Starbucks next to the baggage claim at LAX. It is a heavenly dream that I can’t wait to make my very own caffeinated reality.
Even though it is early, and I should probably be sleeping like the rest of the passengers on this full flight, I can’t. I find myself oddly intrigued by the thought of 2016. On this very last day of 2015, I find myself eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new year I have yet to meet but keep hearing so much about. Some are already raving about 2016! They say it will be so much better than the now outdated 2015, full of fun surprises and exciting new adventures! With giddy delight, they post Instagram quotes and 140 characters or less tweets inspiring us to put our best foot forward for this exceptional year we are about to be introduced to. Others are a bit more skeptical, saying that 2016 is nothing more than a new date to write next to our signature. These same realists insist that only dreamers greet this new year with new goals, resolutions and hopes. There’s nothing special about 2016, nothing to have to dress to impress or throw a party for, and certainly nothing worth staying up till midnight to watch a big shiny disco ball drop in Times Square for.
So where does all this talk about 2016 leave me? I will meet my new partner in crime I’ve been assigned to for the next 365 days in less than 18 hours, and I am struggling with what my disposition towards him should be. Will he be my knight in shining armor, valiantly rescuing me from the fire-breathing dragon of challenges surrounding me? Will he be my sworn enemy, always out to sabotage me at every turn? Will he be a tour guide leading me to exotic new places full of adventure? Will he be my drill sergeant kicking my character and willpower into shape? Will he be a dull and dreadfully boring guest I am forced to socialize and make small talk with for the next 12 months? Who is this 2016 anyways? Why does he insist on hiding behind mysterious shrouds of secrecy and speculation? Why won’t he show his face already and give me some indication of what the next 365 days of my life will be like?
As you can see (or in this case read), I have a ton of questions about next year. And the more questions I seem to ask, the fewer answers I seem to get. And then it dawns on me. Perhaps, I am pointing my intrigue verging on interrogation in the wrong direction. As much as I would like to believe that this new year will be calling all the shots and making all the decisions, that’s putting an awful lot of pressure on a chunk of time, no matter how great the posts on Instagram make him sound. Truth is 2016 doesn’t hold all the power. I do. And so do you.
2016 will be what I make of it. This new year isn’t some sort of cosmic puppeteer pulling all the strings. It’s a white canvas ready to be colored by my brushstrokes, it’s a nice chunk of money ready to be invested how I see fit; it’s a shiny new car with a full tank of gas ready for me to start the ignition; it’s a blank Word Doc ready to be typed upon with my very own ambitions, hopes and dreams.
It’s not a matter of what 2016 will do to me or you, but rather what will we do with it.
2016 is a divine gift wrapped into 365 days. But it comes with a catch. It’s time that can’t be stored away or saved for later. It must be spent. Each day comes with an expiration date of 24 hours. Each day demands from us intentional choices, and those choices will add up to a year squandered or a year fully and vibrantly lived.
Sitting on this airplane, oddly deep in thought for 6am, one unrelenting thought continues to resurface. I cannot; I will not waste this year.
Think whatever you’d like about New Year’s resolutions, but here I am on New Year’s Eve finding myself utterly and completely resolved. I will not waste this year.
I won’t allow the all too common distractions to pickpocket my time. My time is not going to be so easy to steal this year. I’m not going to hand it over to the usual culprits. I will not waste my time on trying to fit in just because I’m afraid of upsetting a few people. I will not waste my months on apathy simply because things got too difficult or took too long. I will not waste my weeks on doubts sold to me as thoughts that keep me grounded in the real world. I will not waste my days on endless arguments elevating opinions as truth and fueling futile feuds. I will not waste my hours on insecurity feeding off of self-doubt and comparison. I will not waste my minutes appeasing my ego that needlessly puts myself before others.
No, I am resolved. And I dare you to be resolved as well. Resolve to make the most of 2016. Resolve to spend your months and weeks and days and hours on things that actually matter. Resolve to follow Jesus with complete abandon. Resolve to fix your eyes on Jesus unswervingly as you run your race. Resolve to pray audacious prayers fueled by audacious faith. Resolve to believe the truth of God’s Word even when it doesn’t make much situational sense. Resolve to experience for yourself the infinite love of God. Resolve to love deeply and fully even when it costs you. Resolve to forgive quickly even when it hurts. Resolve to say goodbye to the practices that have out stayed their welcome. Resolve to happily welcome new challenges as brand new opportunities. Resolve to live boldly and bravely. Resolve to stand up and to stand out. Resolve to unapologetically develop the gifts within you. Resolve to contribute where you could just consume. Resolve to show up each and every day and give it your all. Resolve to face each day with unrelenting hope and expectation. Resolve to devote each of your 365 new days to the God who authored each of those days, the God who has gone before you in each of those days, and the God who walks beside you in each of those days.
Be resolved, my friend. This year will be what you make of it. And by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, with your resolve you will make something quite extraordinary out of this brand new 2016!