The New Year presents all of us with an opportunity to declare some heartfelt resolutions. (And no, I am not taking about the kind that you ignore by the second week of January!) Actually, I am thinking about Jonathan Edwards.
The great American Preacher, Edwards is well known for many things. In the early 1700s, he was a brilliant young scholar at Yale. He went on to pastor several churches, do missionary work, write prolifically (with a great interest in science), serve as the catalyst of the Great Awakening, assume the presidency of Princeton University and along the way he married and had 11 children.
But early on, this Connecticut country boy found himself in a tough spot. As a young, inexperienced pastor, he was serving in New York City leading a part of a church that had split from another faction. He was in deep and as one author said, “He needed both a place to stand and a compass for some direction.”
So, Edwards began to write a journal and, in that journal, he wrote some guidelines that he later called his resolutions. Most of them were written before he turned twenty years of age. The 70 resolutions fall into a wide range of categories; they cover his life mission, time management, suffering, his spiritual life, relationships and good works.
Here are a few examples:
“Resolved. To study the scriptures as steadily, constantly, and frequently as that I may find and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
Resolved. To do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of making in general.
Resolved. To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
Resolved. To examine carefully and constantly what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God and to direct all my forces against it.”
It occurs to me that you and I might find it very helpful to do some writing this week. Specifically, we ought to pen a personal resolution or two. Remembering what God has done already in our lives, we might jot down a thought or two about this New Year. Just fill in the blank.
Resolved. I will……
Resolved. I will stop……