untitled essay

I wrote this for the February issue of the regional Friends newsletter that I edit—NWYM Connection. If it was inkworthy, I figure I might as well publish it here as well.

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How are you doing on your new year’s resolutions? A recent survey showed that of the 45 percent who make resolutions, only 8 percent actually keep them. That could represent a lessening desire for improvement or, worse, a resignation to inevitable failure. Have we lost faith in ourselves to keep promises we make—even those we make to ourselves?

On January 1 we sometimes resolve to remove excess, such as eating too much, from our daily lives. On January 2 we find a way to rationalize away that resolve. It took way too many of my 61 years to figure out that I am not entitled to everything I want. For something so simple as a dessert I had previously resolved not to eat I could unresolve in a moment because I felt entitled to it.

Broaden that simple example to other perceived entitlements, such as equality, happiness, freedom, justice. Nothing that depends on the actions and intentions of other humans can be considered a sure thing. Nothing. But Scripture abounds in entitlements, promises from God, and we can count on him to keep his word. Yet they aren’t always fulfilled on this side of eternity. Think about Jacob, whom God promised, “I will surely bring you back” from Egypt to Canaan, his homeland (Genesis 46:4). That promise was fulfilled only after Jacob’s death. You can probably list times you prayed for a promise to be fulfilled and felt God didn’t give you what you asked for. My husband, Mauri, and I each lost a spouse to cancer. Our experience taught us we were not entitled to lifelong marriages, even though we hoped for that.

These days I’d rather base my hope on God’s promises than on my own. I like what the writer of Romans said about Abraham. “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (4:20).

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