Resolve is a characteristic needed for pursuing nearly any goal in any area of our lives. It relates to determination and resilience that then provides something akin to a three-legged stool from which we can lay out a path. They are similar, but not exactly the same if you tease them out a bit.
Resolve is the decision I make to set my alarm to get up in time to have my quiet time, eat a healthy breakfast, and exercise. Determination is what helps me not hit snooze and get up as I resolved to do. Resilience is what helps me recover from messing up and hitting snooze one day and not making it a habit or it’s what keeps me going with the difficulties I bump into to pursue the healthy goals I have resolved to achieve.
Throw in a healthy portion of self-discipline along the way and we have a formula that can serve us well with getting our day started, pursuing excellence in our education, and competence in our chosen profession or occupation. But each day we inevitably have things that come up that cause us to shift our priorities, some are outside of our control. And when that happens it can be far too easy for the three-legged stool to crumble.
None of it sounds easy or fun. I know that well. A decision to change anything is a complex goal that has lots of little components that can upend us even when we start out with a great deal of resolve.
I am a pretty self-disciplined person, and it has served me well in more than a few areas of my life, but it isn’t a quality that extends across all the areas of my life. And it is in those areas that I know I need more than a little accountability with someone else involved to help me stay on track to do better than I would do on my own. I am guessing that might be true for some of you as well. Without much thought you can identify some of those areas because they tend to be persistent over time, whether that is related to our preferences or some aspect of our abilities, skills, or giftedness. Maybe it is a combination of all of them with a few other ingredients thrown in.
One of mine is the area of exercise. As I was growing up, I learned to be pretty task-oriented. Based on how I was parented on a small farm meant an abundance of tasks did not allow for a great deal of time for leisure activities. I didn’t feel very coordinated and playground games and physical education classes confirmed that to me year-by-year. But age reminds you that your body is shifting in ways that show passage of time.
Resolve to exercise was spotty at best so before I retired, I hired a personal trainer for about seven years to assure I would attend to this deficit. That taught me that my body and abilities could change, but when retirement came and that was not an option that seemed open, my resolve was spotty again. So, about a year ago the resolve got kicked up a notch with some of my husband’s health issues and we both joined a program and eventually hired a personal trainer to help us.
I know some of you LOVE to exercise via some sport (if not the traditional workout) and I applaud you. My husband had a friend when he was on active military duty who loved to run and even if the training that day was exhausting and involved a long run, this friend would often come home at the end of the day and run another five or ten miles. Amazing to us both!
All these concrete physical goals are not the only areas where the three-legged stool is needed. They are essential for our spiritual lives as well.
The idea of a resolve to have a quiet time consistently each day is not something we will disagree with, but it is one of the things that can be more easily upended than we ever imagine. Interruptions happen – not only from outside of us, but from inside our own heads. The enemy of our souls understands that because he knows we need an absolute foundation in prayer and the Bible to withstand the devices he sets up to seduce us.
“It is not enough to remember; we must hear it again. Prayer is the act in which we hear it again. It is not enough to carry memory verses around with us; we need daily encounter with the resonant voice of God. Prayer is that encounter. Situations change. Does God change? We pray. We listen. God speaks his word again – the same word! – and we are restored and renewed in our commitment.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
I have lived a full life and much of it has kept my calendar overcrowded at times. Even in retirement I have discovered that there is much to do that can fill a day pretty quickly, but one thing I have learned is if my resolve to have my quiet time in the morning slips away, the essential restoration and renewal I need does not happen.
Over time I have had days where that did not happen because I allowed the dailyness of this life to press in or an early morning appointment interfered, but experience has taught me the value of determination to fight for the time. Why? There are many reasons, but the evidence I know is that I am much more likely to accomplish a long list of “to do” if that time happens first and without that, restoring renewal doesn’t happen to sustain me with whatever life throws at me.
“Life is moving and dynamic, changing and growing. The world challenges and attacks. The word of God does not change and my call does not change, but the relationship is under constant assault and must be renewed constantly. Resolve is essential but not enough. In prayer God provides renewal. Prayer is not so much the place where we learn something new, but where God confirms anew the faith to which we are committed.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses