09 Mar A New Year, A New Move, A New Resolution
The Year 2016 witnessed many epoch making events in the world. The world economic forum declares advent of fourth industrial revolution ushering in sweeping changes in technology impacting high rise of unemployment-three jobs loss for every job gain and five jobs loss for every job gain for men and women respectively. Climate change has continued with unpredictable rise of temperature and impending disaster for the planet earth. The exit of Britain from European Union has caused economic uncertainty. Syria has become Middle East’s biggest human disaster. Religion’s power still influences political and social lives and shapes destiny of nations. The Walk-free foundation report of 46 million slaves worldwide shows human race is still striving for freedom. Peace eludes many nations in the world despite peace talks. India has shown promise of becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Youth are making a beeline for start-ups and entrepreneurship than for jobs. We are moving towards smart phones, smart jobs, smart cities and cashless society. Digital initiatives and its proliferation have thrown open challenges for students to offer innovative solutions to emerging problems. National academic depositary of degrees and diplomas of educational institutes has been created. But problems of the students still persist. Students ending of lives due to failure and depression are still reported. Agitation and protests in universities mark campus life during the year. With these and many more incidents, the leap year has passed into history.
The New Year 2017 has dawned. Another year of grace is to live, look forward and resolve in life of every person, society and nation. The year gone by might have left scars, wounds, chaos, mayhem, bad legacy and unfulfilled dreams. But another year has ushered in new phase, new beginning and new steps in the journey of life. It is the time to take assessment, dream new dream and plan new resolution for the future. C. S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, academic and Christian apologist, once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” For everyone, irrespective of age and status, the New Year is important and it beckons us to do something new in life. Use of time during the year determines our future. Benjamin Franklin, scientist, inventor and statesman, was very cryptic as he said “Waste not time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.”
About 4000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the New Year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of New Year’s resolutions. A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar established January 1 as the beginning of the new-year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. For early Christians, the first day of the New Year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year. Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year resolutions today are a mostly secular practice.
Our calling is to run and stay in the race set for us as good runners and soldiers for the Lord while getting rid of everything that would slow us down or hold us back. It is important for us to examine our ways to be on track without detour. No one likes to be left behind. To win the race, we resolve to use our talent, time and treasures for the new ventures, new goals and new dreams. Jacob, father of twelve tribes of Israel, while seeking a new identity in his life away from his father’s home, dreamed God’s promise and presence and vowed to give back a tenth of his income. David, the great king of Israel, resolved to meditate in precepts of God, delight in statutes and not to forget His Word. Young and noble Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or royal wine in the Babylonian palace and led an uncompromising exemplary life in the face of pressure from all sides. The great leader Joshua made undivided commitment to Jehovah and led his family and people in the wilderness to stay committed to worship the true and Living God. Job, the wealthiest and greatest of all people in the east and known as a pure and upright man, made covenant with his eyes not to entertain thoughts against a virgin. Paul, the apostle, missionary, scholar and writer of epistles, determined to become all things to all people so that by all means he may save some to fulfill his efforts of evangelisation.
There is nothing wrong or irrational to make resolutions on a new year eve or new year day or any time of this year. Some of us might have failed in keeping our resolutions last year. One survey reports only a negligible percentage of people are successful in their resolves. But God is God of impossibilities. He never fails. Another opportunity this New Year is to resolve to do something great in our lives in His will and purpose. Our very resolve to improve in the area of academics, spiritual life, ministry and finance will propel us to go forward. Many of the students and graduates will do better when they pursue higher studies. Are you planning to make all efforts to enroll in the course in the best Institute of your choice or dream this year? The Lord has a better plan for you. Determine and prepare to do the best. Students may resolve to excel in studies better than the last year as His witness in the campus. It is the time to turn from our own ways to the Lord and renewed our faith to move ahead in spiritual life. Many like to decide to read the scripture through this year. Reading 4 chapters a day or 3 chapters on week days/5 chapters on weekends will help in covering the Bible in one year. Some like to make resolutions to increase time of prayer and intercession. What a wonderful decision to spend time at the throne of grace! Senior students and graduates may look forward to adopt a campus or students’ fellowship or spend more time in the new area of the ministry.
In the sphere of finance, focus may be to diversify investment and contribute to some important projects. A new year reminds us to take steps ahead to shine in professional life with innovation and creativity.
It is better to seek God to show us what He wants us to do in our lives in this year. Resolution is the seed shown in faith to see it bloom for the glory of God. Irish playwright and essayist Oscar Wilde commented, “Good resolutions are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” When you open the account with resolutions from God, your account will overflow with blessings not only for you but also for others. It is possible that as we work toward a goal, the struggle itself is teaching us lessons God wants us to learn. It is important to be resolute with the resolution made in this year. Some of us decide to give up bad habits. It is not possible with our own strengths. With God’s strength, our dreams will be fulfilled and goals be achieved. “Be single minded. Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.”
Let our new year resolution be without fear or failure but for the hope of seeing God do great things in and through our lives and lives around us. God has promised us, “Behold I will do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
References: Lam. 3:40, Heb.!2:1, I Cor. 9:24, 2 Tim.2:3, Psalm 119:15-16, Gen.28:22, Daniel 1:8, Jos. 24:14-15, Job 31:1, I Cor. 9:22, Phil 3:13-14 and Isa 43:19.
Dr. Nanda Dulal
The author is presently based in Bangalore. He and his wife Geetanjali are involved with UESI ministry right from their student days.