2019 is behind us now, and we are already half-way through January. The new year has begun (but sorry y’all, the new decade doesn’t start until 2021)! At the end of an old year, we tend to make resolutions for the new one—we want to learn an instrument, learn a language, read more books, or loose some weight. Pretty quickly, though, we start being less resolute with our resolutions. If you’re like me, you’ve already messed by the end of January and you end the first month of the new year feeling like a failure.
Well, I’m not going to let that happen again this year…but not because I’m going to jump into January with both feet! Instead, I am going to take a less stressed approach, based on the book of Ezra.
The book of Ezra is all about the rebuilding of Israel. The Jews had been judged by God and carried away into Babylon. But eventually God allowed them to return to their homeland and to begin rebuilding their temple and their country. But when the Jews began the rebuilding process, there was a lot of work to be done. Among other things—they had to get permission from the king, assemble a caravan so everyone could travel together safely, travel from Babylon to Jerusalem, set up temporary shelters, gather the materials for the rebuilding process, organize the labor efforts, and then actually start to build. That’s a lot of work!
Notice how the book of Ezra describes the timeline of events.
From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid….Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. (Ezra 3:6-8)
The Jews didn’t get to start rebuilding the temple until the second month of the second year of their return to Jerusalem! They had been back in Jerusalem for (at least) six months by now. I’m sure it would have been easy to get depressed—“we’ve been here for almost half a year now, and it doesn’t look like we are any closer to rebuilding the temple; we don’t even have a foundation laid yet!” When the first day of the new year rolled around, I wonder if they felt discouraged because they weren’t able to get started on their “new year’s resolution” of rebuilding the temple. Did they feel like a failure because, twenty days into the new year, they still hadn’t even laid the foundation for their dreams?
If you had big plans for 2020, don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get to them until February. This is not an excuse to slack off or be lazy. Anything worth doing takes persistence and hard work. But anything worth doing also takes time and preparation—and let’s just be honest: sometimes life gets in the way and we don’t know where January went! That’s ok.
Let January be a buffer-zone between you and your resolutions. Make them in December, but attack them in February. The holidays are a busy time and it is easy to get overwhelmed with everything. Don’t feel depressed, and definately don’t let the delay derail your resolution!
Think for a moment—does it really matter if we start our new resolution on January first? If your goal is to learn a new instrument so that you can enjoy playing music for the rest of your life, is it really that earth-shattering if you start on February first instead of January first? As long as you attack your resolution when you do start, it is ok if you have the occasional delay.
I am actually employing this strategy for myself this year, and this will have some impact on my readers. 2019 was our best year at Lectionary yet. We had over 4.2k views—and for us, that was record breaking! Many thanks to all you faithful readers! That said, 2020 is going to be a very busy year. I have just started my second semester of my PhD program in Historical Theology and the coursework is very demanding (both of time and effort). Combine my PhD responsibilities with my job and with my teaching responsibilities at my local church—and my lovely wife deserves her fair share of my time—most days there aren’t very many minutes left for blogging.
In the past I have tried to put out an article a week. This year, don’t be surprised if you only see an article a month. I wish I could give my dear readers more content, but God has given me other fields to focus on. I’m not making excuses—but the book of Ezra has taught me that it is ok if certain projects get delayed, as long as we keep making incremental progress.
What did you want to accomplish this year? Feel like you’ve already failed? Don’t! Instead, give yourself permission to start “on the second month.” Use the rest of January to prepare, and then start laying your foundations in February!
If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow me here and let me know what your new year’s resolutions are using the hashtag #FoundationsInFebruary.