Take New Years for example — a lot of people make “resolutions” for the coming year. I too have made many resolutions in my short 30 years — and in the moment, I really mean it. But at this point, I’m less quick to be resolute on anything — and it’s not due to lack of want. It’s due to the fact that I’ve learned that my willpower is faulty fuel. I’m not as awesome as I would like to be — I’ve let myself down too many times.
A guy named Jonathan Edwards is partly known for his great resolutions – a list of commitments that he made to God and himself. I’ve always admired these resolutions and even wanted to adopt many, but I hesitate and cringe because I just know myself too well.
All over the Bible we see this tension in regards to our spiritual life. There are these exhortations to go and run hard toward Christ-likeness. We’re called to be resolved and confident in our pursuit of God. And yet we are also told to be careful — to remember that we are dependent and limited. To remember that willpower is faulty fuel. To remember that God’s constant supply of grace is what keeps us moving forward.
I love what David models for us in Psalm 119:8
The first statement has a child-like boldness. It’s like when my son declares that he is a ninja and can indeed jump off the ledge with skill and bravery! It makes me smile.
But after all that gusto, you see the hesitation, the dependence. That too is childlike. Like when this brave son of mine approaches the ledge fully intending to jump off, but quite suddenly realizing he needs dad’s help to fulfill his dreams of becoming the wall-jumping ninja that he knows he can be. This makes me smile too.
I think God smiles at both in us as well. I think He smiles when we, like David, resolve to follow him with all the brave intent that we can muster. I think that God is honored by our intent. But I think He also smiles and is honored when realize just how limited our intent is. When our bravery hiccups into a humbled dependence. When we still plan to jump off the ledge in our best ninja pose, but we keep a wary eye on Dad to make sure He’s going to catch us.
Somewhere in the tension of resolve and dependence is where we should live and make our every move. I shouldn’t be overly hesitant to make big resolutions like Jonathan Edward. Even though this hesitancy is rooted in the truth that I am incapable of being faithful to my resolutions on my own — I still need to step up the ledge with every intent to jump.
But the truth is that it is foolish and deadly to silence the hiccup of dependence with overconfident gusto. It isn’t wise to soar off the wall, ignoring our need for assistance — we’re likely to break a leg…or worse. The truth is, we can’t really accomplish anything we resolve to accomplish without enormous amounts of help from God.
But He is happy to help us soar — so let Him.
Commitments like reading the Bible daily or denying yourself something for the purpose of spiritual growth might seem daunting — but I just encourage you to step up to the ledge with every intent to jump and pray. Ask God to help you as you pursue Him with wild determination.