A new year might open up like a fresh can of paint full to the brim with vibrant possibility. On the other hand, it might dawn with piercing frigidity leaving you stone cold frozen. Festive tunes about sleigh rides and wonderlands aside, winter can be a pretty inhospitable season. I know, I am a Minnesota girl, born and raised. If you’ve never experienced the freezing of the contents of your nose upon inhaling the outside air, you don’t know what cold is. Even after relocating to more temperate climes, you never forget the kind of cold that makes keeping a full-body Carhartt in the trunk of your car a reasonable thing to do, you know, just in case.
Sometimes a bright coat of paint to makeover the worn and dull is just what we need. It gives us a clean canvas for a new decorating scheme and obscures last year’s vintage coral with this year’s cobalt blue. Times to refocus and reevaluate can help us shed dead weight and make sure we are still headed in the right direction. But sometimes you don’t want a fresh start, you don’t want to begin again, you don’t want a change of color or change of scene, and you sure don’t want to jettison the time and sweat and tears invested over months or years. What you want is for your work to succeed and your investments to finally pay off, to see something lasting formed from your efforts, and to finally hear the promising drip that means the thaw has arrived, and that soon buds of growth will appear on what has long lain in ice-encrusted dormancy. I hear ya.
New year’s resolutions can play false with our feelings. We feel that we are entitled to look back and see a certain amount of progress over the past twelve months and if we don’t, we get free license to chart a new course. “That didn’t work,” we say. “It’s time to try something different.” If we take a moment to step back, however, we can see that things worth doing often take longer than a single year to meet with success.
Pursuing the Possible
Take, for instance, the man behind the beloved Pixar films, Ed Catmull, who sat at home as a child in the 1950s watching Disney in black and white on the family television dreaming of one day making computer animated movies. Many thought this was foolish, but all he saw was the possibility. He kept the vision alive through college and various jobs in the fledgling world of computer graphics. For many years computer animation remained a fanciful idea in the film industry. In 1986 Pixar came into being; but even then they were still designing hardware to make animating a possibility, not working on blockbuster films. All along the way Catmull worked tirelessly to make the possible a reality, but the dream always seemed inches from death. It was too difficult, too expensive, and, frankly, a little crazy.
Catmull’s vision of crafting computer animated feature films didn’t come to fruition until the release of Toy Story in 1995. He doggedly pursued his goal for many years in spite of the fact that it didn’t seem to be working out. That kind of commitment only comes with the wholehearted belief that what you are pursuing is possible.
Catmull isn’t the only one to ever resolutely maintain a course even though the destination seemed perpetually out of reach. We see Joseph, after he had his grandiose dreams that he would rule over his brothers, dedicating himself to righteous living and faithful work during his many years as a slave in Egypt, and continuing this behavior even when unjustly imprisoned. We see David, after he had been chosen by the Lord and anointed for kingship, running for his life from the madman Saul. We see Ruth remaining faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when her Isrealite husband died though she was born into the Moabite people, not the Israelite nation. She traded her Moabite identity for a godly heritage and remained strong in faith even when Naomi succumbed to bitterness. We see Paul in constant pursuit of the growth and encouragement of the church in spite of shipwrecks and floggings and imprisonment.
Choose This Day
These people all had a glimpse of what was possible, and they knew the God who could make it so. They knew that it is the blessing of the Lord that makes one rich and not the contrivances of man (Proverbs 10:22). They knew they could not rest in their own ability, but must trust the Lord to accomplish all that concerned them (Psalm 138:8). They knew that the story of success is told more by living each day in faithfulness than it is by bursts of fame and glory. They knew that the choice before them—as it had been for their fathers—was to choose this day whom they would serve. That choice was, and remains today, a choice between a life of blessing and a life of cursing. These were not perfect folks. They were sinners who screwed up in spectacular ways. Yet, they relied on grace and the surety of God’s promises and remained doggedly on the path to blessing—and so, my friends, should we.
At the opening of this new year, we may find ourselves with the spring of a new beginning in our steps or encased in a season of frostbitten waiting or maybe even enjoying the first crackles of a long awaited thaw. During it all, we can remember that we must not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9). This is not merely a possibility, it is a promise. It is not only our responsibility, but our privilege, to work heartily for the Lord rather than men; and when we do we may trust Him for the increase, for His promises never fail.
Are you choosing to pursue the life of blessing? Have you grown weary in well doing? Talk to us in the comments below.