New Year’s resolutions fascinate me.
Not so much the resolutions themselves, but more so the means to their existence.
It hit me one January when I made the mistake of going to the gym. Because of all the fitness-related New Year’s resolutions, the gym was packed and many people didn’t have a clue what they were doing.
I was hoping to run on the treadmill, but the wait was like the line to a women’s bathroom. I tried lifting weights, but the dumbbells were out of order like they’d been organized by a chimpanzee. Plus, the big-boned guy on the elliptical sounded like a chain-smoker running the Boston Marathon, and my fallen nature was telling me to go all Cain and Abel on him.
So I decided against the treadmill and dumbbells and shot hoops instead. I listened to the “Hoosiers” soundtrack on my iPod, acted like I was Jimmy Chitwood, and imagined Gene Hackman walking through the gymnasium doors and begging me to play—like I was the best basketball player ever, like I hadn’t had two serious knee surgeries and wasn’t a thumb shooter or a golfer.
While I chased my airballs, I also occasionally glanced into the see-through walls of the weight room and thought about how weird people were. The weight room was bustling like a Wal-Mart on Black Friday, and a month before it had been as quiet as a library.
I then thought about my own resolution that year: to read the Bible more. A month before, I could have scribbled my name with my finger in the dust on the cover; but that morning, I had a pen, highlighter, and concordance handy when I read like I was Martin Luther.
Why? I wondered.
Why does New Years give people the hope of a fresh start?
Why does New Years trigger a desire to change?
Why does New Years make people want to be better?
It’s not the resolutions that fascinate me—work out every day, lose weight, quit smoking, stay sober, read the Bible, whatever—it’s the means to their existence.
Why do we want a fresh start, for example, if nothing we do is wrong? Why would we have a desire to change if there was nothing to change from? Why would we want to be better if every decision we made was right?
Behind most genuine New Years resolutions, I see a burning desire wound into the fabric of our human nature to be made new and change. But why? If you want to be made new, what’s wrong with the past? If you want to change, what are you changing from? If there is a right way and a wrong way to live, then Who is the author of morality?
The unfortunate thing is that we think it’s the New Year that gives us a fresh start and the ability to be made new. We think it’s the New Year that will help us turn over a new leaf and change. But it’s not. I can only do so much. Ultimately, something else must change me and make me new.
And that’s what I love about the God of Christianity.
When I welcomed Jesus into my life, He changed me…and He continues to change me…and He will forever continue to change me…and I’ll forever be new.
I’m not a big “resolutions” guy. I like goals, but resolutions seem legalistic, and I always end up failing and feeling like I’m worthless. Not that resolutions are bad (I’ve done them before), but they just aren’t for me.
This year, though, I want to change; and I want God to change me. I don’t know if that’s a resolution. I don’t know if that’s a goal. I just know it’s a central component to the Christian lifestyle that, frankly, many Christians, including myself, leave out.
If you aren’t constantly changing or constantly being changed, is it possible that you’re not even a follower of Jesus? You may call yourself a Christian, but that’s just a generic title people slap on their Facebook pages. A follower of Jesus is changed by Jesus and continually changed by Jesus.
One of my favorite interviews in 2012 was with PGA Tour player Aaron Baddeley. Whatever Aaron had, I wanted it. He gets up early—no matter what, according to his wife, Richelle—and he reads the Bible, not because it’s on a checklist, but because it changes him.
Aaron’s relationship with God was what a relationship should be: intimate. And it makes him a better person. It makes him happier. He is constantly being changed, conformed to the image of Jesus, which is the purpose to your life here on earth, and that makes him happy.
If God truly has a design, then wouldn’t following that design be fulfilling?
Behind most New Year’s resolutions, I see that design, and it reminds me to be a part of it.
This column appeared in the December 2012 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. His column tackles sports and faith from another angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. Follow him on Twitter-@steve_copeland or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.