“If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.” –Seneca
I’m not big into New Year’s Resolutions. Time is a human construct that is super-useful while we’re here on Earth, but because I know that we are eternal beings, the change from one year to another is not that huge a deal to me. I figure I should be pursuing God’s purposes for me all the time.
Having said that, I’ve come to appreciate the opportunity the new year brings to assess what has gone before and what may lie ahead. We tend to get so caught up in the daily necessities of living that it’s easy to overlook the bigger picture and our part in it. And we end up like Seneca’s hypothetical man, without direction or caught in a perpetually unfavorable wind. So, occasionally checking in with ourselves and making whatever adjustments need to be made is a good thing.
But here’s the catch: How do you know what you really need? Whatever your personality type is, you still have a personality, which means you aren’t seeing the whole picture. So much of what we think we need or want is driven by the personality and its often unconscious motives that we should be highly skeptical of our own goals. And no matter what type you are, you are not omniscient.
So, you can do your best and hope for the best and try your best for another year, or you can try another method of goal-setting or resolution-making: Let God set your goals. Or at least show you what to focus on.
I’ve been reading up on the difference between the Greek and Hebrew mindsets lately as I do research for my book, and I’ve learned that the Greek mind is about knowing (head knowledge) and the Hebrew mindset is about doing (experiential knowledge and action). William Barrett wrote in Irrational Man: “The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek.”
As you may know, we in the West are Greek thinkers. I think we think too much, and I think God would agree. He didn’t say “Be still, and know that I am God” for no reason. That’s the kind of knowing we need more than our own limited, rational head knowledge.
So, here’s what I did on New Year’s Day. I fasted, I worshiped God in song, and I sat in silence before him after asking this question: “What are you saying to me for this year?” See how open-ended that question is? You can use your own wording, but the point is not to ask yes/no questions; instead, ask a general question that’s about you and that only God can answer.
I heard two clear responses for myself (I also did this for my local church and for our nation). One surprised me and one was a “Yep, I totally know that.” And that night, I had a dream that confirmed a third thing that I had already begun and need to take into the new year. God is generous and so willing to speak if we will be willing to listen!
I didn’t get a step-by-step guide of how to run my business or receive the winning lottery number, though you might get one or both of those. But I got what God knows I need right now, and they are things that will sustain me throughout 2018 as I confront the things I don’t yet understand or know what to do about.
We all by now probably know Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. So, this year, why not try something new? Why not let the most kind, extravagant and loving being in the universe help steer your course?
Quick Start Guide to Centering Prayer
This short guide gives you the essentials for learning to be still and quiet before God so you can hear his voice and feel his love in a deeper way.