What are your goals for 2019? What do you hope will happen this year? Many of us make resolutions, resolving to do better—to lose weight, exercise more, downsize. They could be spiritual in nature—to read the Bible every day, join a small group at church, or pray more. But what’s to keep us on track? How can we expect to succeed at making these changes this year, when we made the same resolutions and set the same goals last year—and the year before, and the year before that—but failed?
The pastor who teaches our adult Sunday school class addressed this topic recently. He asserted that the only plans we can make with assurance are those that are rooted in God’s promises—whether they are promises spelled out in the Bible, or those made to us personally. If our goals aren’t God’s goals, not only are we left to muddle through in our own strength, but the whole exercise is pointless. We won’t be producing “fruit that remains.” (John 15:16)
He put it this way: “If you’re planning for the future, and your planning isn’t anchored in a promise, you’re planning for nothing. … We need a map anchored in Scripture.”
I can easily see his point. As believers, we share God’s goals. He wants to see his Kingdom established on earth—so should we. He wants the blind to receive sight, the lame to walk, those who have leprosy to be cleansed, the deaf to hear, the dead to be raised, and the good news to be proclaimed to the poor (Luke 7:22). So should we. Even our personal goals should be rooted in God’s desire for our lives.
But I don’t think our pastor went far enough.
It’s wonderful to have a map. We can see where we are and plan a route to where we think we’re going. But, for the most part, I no longer use a paper map. I prefer to bring up Waze on my phone. This app has a huge advantage over the old AAA maps—it knows the current conditions along my route.
Has there been an accident? Is there construction? Waze will steer me around the ensuing traffic jam, easily calculating the fastest way to my destination. Having a map is good. Having an app that has real-time updates is better.
But there’s something that, did it exist, would be better still. I want an app that not only knows the best route to take, even if it isn’t the most direct, but also knows the best destination to aim for. Furthermore, I want it to do more than just talk to me—I want a two-way conversation. And while I’m imagining, I want an app that wants me to be the best me I was created to be!
I’m sure by now you know where I’m heading. I’m describing God. He knows where I need to go, and the best way to get there. He knows everything that lies ahead, and He loves me unconditionally.
The problem with life maps, even if they’re based in the Scriptures, is that they’re static. We plan the goal, we look at the route, and then off we go—by ourselves. Jesus offers us so much more. He not only has a goal in mind, but he takes us there with him. Rather than a map, we’re being offered a personal guide. And somewhere along the way, we discover that knowing the Guide is worth so much more than simply completing the journey.
Perhaps I don’t need to make so many resolutions after all. In fact, I think I just need one—to draw closer to God. Who needs a map when they have the mapmaker?
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14)