Guest Contributor Christen Shell
With a new year comes new year resolutions and goals. “I want to start a family this year.” “I’m going to make these strides in my career.” “I’m going to get out of debt.” Goals and resolutions are important — they keep us accountable and give us something to strive toward. But how do we determine what goals-both small and large- honor the Lord? Furthermore, what happens when our plans, dreams and desires don’t line up with the will of God? We have a perfect example in the life and actions of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came to earth, being fully God yet being fully man, Hebrews tells us that because of His humanity He was tempted in every way that we are (Heb 4:15). Because of this, He understands our struggles and has perfectly overcome all of them. So let’s look at how Jesus bowed to the Father’s will despite his own fears and desires.
Picture this scene. Jesus was about to be arrested. He was with his disciples praying in a garden and knowing He was about to be betrayed and face an excruciating and humiliating death. In the midst of agony, this was His prayer–
“…he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Again, moments later, He prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”” (Matthew 26:39-42)
Twice Jesus prays that the Father would let the cup of suffering pass from him. Twice, His plea is that He would not have to face what was coming. Beyond the physical pain coming–he beating of the Roman soldiers, the crown of thorns and physical ripping of Jesus’ flesh and being nailed to a cross– Jesus knew there was more. Something worse than any physical pain we could imagine on Earth.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10)
Jesus prayed that the wrath of God would pass by Him. Jesus knew what was to come and yet He prayed “not as I will, but as You will” and “Your will be done.” His submission to the Father’s will even to take on the sins of the world is the obedience we should strive for in our everyday lives and our long term plans.
Jesus knew what was to come and yet He prayed “not as I will, but as You will”
So How can we glorify God with our goals in 2020? Here are 3 ways to check our hearts as we set and seek to keep our plans:
- Pray about it.
Simple communion with our Creator. Confess to the Lord the desires of our hearts. He’s a good Father that makes all things work together for those who are called for His purpose, in order to bring Himself glory! Cry out to Him. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a powerful thing He uses to guide us. Pray, “Lord, I want ____ this year. This is the desire of my heart. But God, if this is not Your will, I trust You. I trust Your sovereignty. Please reveal to me if this will or will not bring you glory. God, what is your plan for my future?” We must pray with humility and without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18).
- Read the Word of God.
We have a beautiful and perfect God-breathed guide for everything in life. His Word is whole and needs no addition. The Holy Spirit will reveal the character of God to us and guide our decisions. We will find God-fearing people who may have gone through the same circumstances as us. We’ll find Jesus addressing crowds of people seeking the same answers as you. We encounter a Holy God who is sovereign and allows good and bad to happen.
- Share your plans with Godly friends and mentors.
Not only can they begin praying for and with us, but they can offer guidance. They may be able to recommend a good book or passage of Scripture. They can also keep us accountable. They may be able to see flaws in our 2020 plans that we do not. Godly counsel and friends are invaluable. Keep them close!
We can set every goal and make every plan, but the will of God will prevail. Philippians tells us that Jesus was obedient until death, even death on a cross. Let’s make our 2020 goals to be obedient to what the Lord has for us! How do we know if our plans and goals are from God?
Maybe you’re praying for a spouse. But what if God has called you to a life of singleness? Maybe you’re praying for a child. But what if God is calling you to serve children in a different capacity? Maybe you’re praying for a promotion. But what if God has called you to be content where you are? Whatever you’re praying for, let our prayer always be “not my will but yours.”
The Lord’s plans are perfect and serve to bring him the most glory. May we trust in the Lord’s sovereignty and find peace in his plans and not our own in 2020.
Christen’s roots are deep in the heart of the American Appalachia, but the adventure of marriage has blown her the mitten of the Midwest. Her early 20s have proven to be as exciting as she dreamed of as a small girl. While I’m still figuring out parts of her story, she has found solace in the Lord’s sovereignty, strong coffee, and the art of writing.