Resolutions #2

Dec 31st 2010

New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us have quit making them, because we can’t keep them, right? I recently read a list of the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions resolutionsThat You Can Accomplish. You might want to put one or more of these on your list…

10. Gain weight. 10 to 30 pounds—whatever you feel like you can do.
9. Avoid exercising. It’s fruitless; you die anyway.
8. Watch more TV. You haven’t been wasting enough time.
7. Do not believe politicians.
6. Break at least one traffic law this year.
5. Get further in debt.
4. Spend more time at work—surfing the internet.
3. Feel really bad about your faults, but don’t do anything about them.
2. Do not date any cast member of “Gray’s Anatomy.”
1. Procrastinate more. Start tomorrow.

The reason most of those would be easy for most of us…is that they would not involve change. A resolution is nothing more than a step on the journey of change. So what do you want to change?

A pastor was telling the story of his grandfather. Left motherless with an alcoholic father in the last decade of the nineteenth century, his grandfather grew to only five feet two inches, yet he earned the nickname “The Biggest Little Man in the Company.” He was elected Sunday school superintendent more years in a row than anyone else before or since. He went into business with his best friend, who ran up thousands of dollars of debt during the Great Depression, then disappeared. He didn’t sue. He worked off the debts, then sold the restaurant and barely broke even. When his friend returned to town, people asked him how he would treat the man. He said, “I’ll treat him like he never went away.” He buried two of his children. It broke his heart and cracked his spirit, but it didn’t shake his faith.

People asked him about his recipe for successful Christian life. He always responded with characteristic humility and very little detail. The details he did give faded with age, and I remember him only from age eighty on. So it was years before I discovered the secret. The box in the attic was dusty, the cardboard faded. I wiped the lid with a dust rag before I ever touched it. I lifted the lid and found a second box containing many brittle pages. The first was dated December 31, 1958, several years before my birth. I recognized his familiar penmanship, classically trained in the days before teachers distinguished between printing and cursive. It said: “Resolved, to be a better person on December 31, 1959, than I am today through prayer, Bible study, and service to my fellow man.”

I lifted the sheet and began to read the next one. It was dated December 31, 1957. It said “Resolved, to be a better person on December 31, 1958, than I am today though prayer, Bible study, and service to my fellow man.” I turned to the third page. It was dated December 31, 1956. It carried the identical message. I quickly thumbed through the rest of the stack. The bottom one was dated December 31, 1899.

Fifty-nine years of the same resolution. Fifty-nine years of single-minded resolve. Fifty-nine years of perseverance, an undying passion to become God’s man, step by step. The real resolution in that grandfather’s life was simply — don’t quit. Here is the resolution principle — Perseverance makes failure a learning experience.

If you had one resolution, what would it be?