Everybody is making New Years Resolutions – those things we make as a fresh year begins, then don’t do after a month or two. I’m as bad as anyone else (I don’t even remember what I resolved last year), but can’t help making some every year.
Since a few years ago when I read how young Jonathan Edwards made a long list of life resolutions which he would read frequently as reminders, I made a list of my own. I would add more resolutions as lifed happened and I learned more things, regardless of what time of year it was. But that list has since become rather dusty – haven’t even glanced at it in almost a year. It’s a new year, so what a good time to resurrect the whole idea!
I won’t post them all here, but here are a few ramblings that have been hard on my mind this past week. I will turn into resolutions on my list when I figure out how to say it more succinctly!
Humility. There is too little of this in the world – it’s lack in my own life not excepted. Reject one-upmanship. Don’t make people feel inferior to you. If you suspect this happened, do and say things that will remove this.
Build Trust. Lately I’ve been thinking of a concept I heard from Marvin K. Mayers. In our interactions with others, Mayers talks about something called “the prior question of trust”: Is what I’m doing, thinking or saying building trust or undermining trust? Trust is a heavy thing. We all need people in our lives we can trust, but too often they can’t be found, or could be but we don’t know it. I hope for people to trust me – and I be trustworthy enough not to let them down. So this year I hope to build more trust with every person I meet.
Be present. Don’t dwell on the past, which is done, or suffer angst over the imaginary future. Every moment of life is a sacred gift to be kept. But don’t forget the past or ignore the future. Everything in balance!
Read more. That explains itself after looking around this blog a bit. I love to read and even review books here, but I keep starting books without finishing them. I’m in ten or so now. Time to get cracking on this! Many new books await me besides.
Who God is. It’s amazing to me how we believe in God, but lack in seeking to find out more of who he is. This is the Supreme Being here. He’s more intriguing than everyone else on earth combined, because he’s the source of it all. He formed the universe. He made you and me. He invented love, or is love. Fascinating. I’ve got to get to know this Person better.
We’ll see how this goes. What are your New Year’s resolutions?
Sometimes, it strikes you how much you don’t know. It’s humbling. I look around and wonder at how much there is to the people around me, my surroundings, and the metaphysical world, yet how little of it I perceive.
In a conversation between two people, do you ever contemplate how much is going on? Two people. Each thinking of things to say. Saying them. And listening to the other person — all in the same time period. They think and talk at the same time. How amazing is that? Most of the words we say are not completely pre-planned in our minds. We do both at once. Out of these electrical impulses in the brain, thoughts burst out, spoken in sentences. This is a mystery psychologists still don’t understand.
Then there’s nonverbal communication: some intentional, some subconscious. Dr. James Borg claims that 93% of a human communication is nonverbal. We move our eyes, eyebrows, and mouth in various ways that communicate what’s inside us. We hold our head at a particular tilt, put our hands somewhere, stand or sit, turn our body a certain way, etc.
But how much of this do we realize when we talk? I can’t comprehend everything that is going on in one conversation! I wish I was more perceptive. One time I heard a portrait artist talk about how much she can tell about a person’s character by looking at their face as they interact. I hardly ever notice how a person tilts their head, but she does. Again, more I don’t know. I can’t understand the fullness of the information coming at me when I have a conversation, or all the nonverbal messages I’m giving without realizing it. Can you?
Lately, in verywhere I look, in everything I do, I’m struck by my ignorance. I’m living in the Asian continent. What a different culture. I see people do and say things, but I don’t know the language and the culture is so foreign to me I don’t know why they do it. I can only make educated guesses.
Even what I look at a wall, what do I know? There is so much there I don’t see, or what I see is different from what others see. I’ve heard it said every person sees a color differently. I see a light brown wall, but another may see it a few points darker or lighter. The wall has a history — it was built and painted and glanced at by men I don’t know, who probably spoke a language foreign to me. I don’t know how it was built. The wall is currently covered with microbes I can’t see. It is made of atomic particles yet smaller.
Forgive me if this seems a mundane, ridiculous exercise, but I think it’s healthy to think about all you don’t know. We are truly very, very small creatures, even the strongest, brightest, and most beautiful of us. This is why God makes so much sense. There is One who does know everything there is to know. And if He exists, the existence of things and our limited knowledge of them is not meaningless.
And God. There’s a mystery. How can finite beings know an infinite being? We must need his help. What’s more, who are we to question God’s wisdom? It makes no sense to pass judgment on a Being who has all knowledge due to conclusions you’ve made based on your profoundly minute knowledge. But I do it anyway. I judge God all the time. This little know-nothing.
Why do I do this? I guess I don’t know…
I was in the bookstore last night. I noticed a certain book with a photo of the author across the whole front of the book, with the subtitle, “My journey of discovering what Jesus would really do.” I don’t want to put the author down, but I wondered if Jesus would really put his face on the front cover of his book.
That made me think about the humility of Jesus. Honestly, I don’t think Jesus would put his face in the front of a book if he walked earth today, or even write a book. I say that because the historical Jesus never wrote a book; He left that to His followers under the inspiration of God’s Spirit.
When I read the New Testament, I get the impression that Jesus does not exalt himself (even though he deserves exaltation) — He leaves that to others. Primarily, God the Father; secondarily , us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “It is my Father who glorifies me” (John 8:54b). Philippians says that because of Jesus’ humility and obedience to the Father in going to the cross, “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven, on earth and under earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11). Note that as the result of God’s exaltation of Jesus as God, everyone will bow in confession of this truth. It is our duty to glorify and confess him. Christians can do this by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus says “will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you [his disciples].” (John 16:14).
Jesus did not glorify Himself. He sought the glory of the Father and told people to do the same. In doing so, he received glory from both the Father and from people. Make no mistake; Jesus is honored as God Himself. But he has others do it. That amazes me. Jesus has every right to honor himself, but he doesn’t. He personally lived his command to us, when he said “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).