First things first


New Year’s resolutions don’t generally work for me but I have been able to keep two of them. A few years ago I decided to read the Bible through in a year. I planned a program, prayed about it and started reading every day. I missed a few days (usually Sabbaths and Sundays) but generally kept up. That was a few years ago and now I read through the Bible at least once every year. 

The only other time a New Year’s resolution worked was after I went to the doctor for a check-up before an overseas mission trip. I had to have my height, weight and blood pressure checked. The doctor was not very diplomatic: “You’re overweight and unfit.” Hearing the truth hurt—but it helped me to make a decision. I began walking with my wife every morning and since then we have eaten far more healthy meals (and we were already lacto-ovo vegetarians). I can now fit into the trousers I wore on my honeymoon—but that was not always the case! 

I want to know this loving God better and I want to be healthy to serve better.

But they are the only two New Year’s resolutions that have worked for me. Not a good strike rate for a 50-something-year-old! On reflection these two worked and are both related to living out the values I hold because God loves me. I want to know this loving God better and I want to be healthy to serve better. 

Whether New Year’s resolutions work for you or not, this is a reminder to keep trying! The battle with this year has not been lost yet. Making the resolution connect to a real value you hold and praying to our loving God about it worked for me. It might work for you too. “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life . . .” (2 Peter 1:3, NLT). 

I would like to be a better disciple of Jesus this year, and I’m sure my family, friends and work colleagues want me to be better too. This is my prayer for you as well—that you become the best follower of Jesus this year that you could ever be!

Glenn Townend is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.