Updated: Mar 11, 2022
New Year, Deep Joy
It’s that time of year again - You’re feeling a little gross from the copious amounts of food you’ve eaten over the last week, you’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve told Netflix that you are, in fact, ‘still watching’ and now you’re beginning to consider all of the ways you’re going to improve in the New Year.
How are those resolutions from last year going, ‘new you’?
For me, it was a glorious 17 days of less screen time and being in a strict calorie deficit.
However, my newly enforced habits inevitably came to a swift end.
As I plan all the ways I’m going to be a ‘better version’ of myself this year, I can’t help but feel like I’m teeing up for failure and disappointment, even with the best intentions.
This got me thinking:
What’s the point?
Start with why
You already know what the big hitters of New Year’s resolutions are:
Get into a new hobby
Make more money
What do these all have in common?
At the heart of it, we pursue these, or similar goals in order to take control of our lives and give ourselves more freedom. Ultimately I think it boils down to one thing that all of humanity longs for:
It’s a trap
But what if I told you we’ve been sold a lie.
None of these things will ever bring you joy.
You will only be satisfied once you make a little bit more money. You will only be happy with how you look once you gain another lb of muscle. You will only feel content once you get your handicap into single figures (a niche one for my fellow golf enthusiasts x).
Pick the carrot at the end of your stick, they’re all the same.
I know this all probably sounds fairly rich claiming that these things won’t bring joy, coming from someone who regrettably isn’t a multi-millionaire in peak physical condition (with a mere handicap of 12).
But don’t take my word for it.
The Bible says so
The preacher in Ecclesiastes puts it this way:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10-11
So where does the Bible say we can find joy?
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15: 10-11
Jesus tells us that our joy is found in union and communion with Him.
God sent Jesus to die in our place so that we can be united with him, forever. Jesus’ death and resurrection means that we can live in relationship with God.
It is in this relationship that we can know true joy for eternity.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
It’s important to note that this joy of knowing Christ won’t stop us from experiencing bad things in life. It means that we will be joyful despite these things.
John Mark Comer says this:
“Some of Paul’s most joyful, ridiculously upbeat letters in the New Testament were written from prison. Philippians was written from the confines of a drab, disgusting prison cell in Rome. And his letter is dripping with joy.”
Here’s the goal
New Years always feels like the perfect time to take step back, stop what you’re doing and realign how you live your life with your values.
Sort of like a big sabbath.
I’m going to make one big goal for this year and I would love for you to join me in making this your goal:
To love Jesus more.
I can’t think of anything more worthwhile.
Nothing will bring more freedom, more peace, more joy.
To help achieve this goal, I’m going to set 3 specific, practical actions to follow:
1) Pray Always
John Mark Comer (On the same page as his last quote, conveniently) has this to say about prayer:
“Prayer is talking to God. Prayer is listening to God. Prayer is making requests from the God who spoke the universe into existence. Prayer changes reality. Prayer rips open prisons, breaks off chains, and throws open new doors. It’s a fact.”
“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7”
I think you could rephrase Paul’s words:
Worry about Nothing.
Pray about everything.
Thank God for anything.”
Like any relationship, communication is key.
Why not open your reminders app right now and set 3 daily reminders to pray?
2) Read Truth
The world is filled with a lot of noise.
Everyone and everything is fighting for your attention.
In this, it is important for us to intentionally set time aside to root ourselves in what we know to be objective truth.
How often do we take for granted that we have the written word of God at our fingertips, yet we don’t bother to open it?
Reading God’s word is more important than breathing.
John Piper in his video ‘God wrote a book’ says: “We meet Him here or we don’t meet Him”
Once again, why not open your reminders app and remind yourself to read the Bible first thing in the morning and another time in the day when you feel like you can give it your full attention?
3) Spread Joy
This month I had the pleasure of finally seeing Spider-Man: No Way Home.
And everybody knew about it.
Telling my friends, family and Twitter followers about this life-changing experience was an overflow of my enjoyment.
That’s what praise is- An overflow of enjoyment.
C.S Lewis takes this idea a step further, that praise completes our joy:
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.
In an overflow of the joy we experience from our relationship with God, let’s share this joy with everyone.
This one is maybe the most difficult, both in practice and to keep track of.
Why not set a reminder to ask God for opportunities to share this, and to be someone who overflows with joy?
No matter how good your intentions are, you will fail to do all of these things every day.
In fact, you won’t just not do these things, you will do so many things that God specifically asks you not to do.
I don’t say this to demotivate you, but instead to comfort you.
Even though we fail God every day, in different ways, He still loves us.
In the same way, prayer brings us deeper into communion with God, sin does the opposite.
It robs us of joy and sucks life out of us.
Jesus’ death covers every past present and future sin, meaning even though you will mess up countless times in 2022, God will never leave you.
Pray that God will reveal the sin in your life and that we may see it for what is.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10.