Livin' la Vida DOXA
1/8/16 at 02:52 PM 0 Comments

The "Woohoo" Resolution

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I’m not really a “New Year’s resolution” kind of guy. Now don’t get me wrong. I am completely in favor of stopping every now and then to evaluate life and make any needed changes. After all, as Socrates (probably) said, an unexamined life is not worth living. (Who am I to disagree with Socrates?) And I guess the beginning of each year is as good a time as any. King Solomon said as much in Ecclesiastes 3:1. Call it the “season of self-evaluation”: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (And who am I to disagree with King Solomon?!) The thing is, I’m more wired toward living by a set of principles and convictions that generallyremain rock solid year after year. No need for “new” resolutions; I’ve got “old” convictions to get me by. And if I do feel inclined toward setting resolutions, I’d prefer to “resolve” them whenever the time seems right, rather than wait until the “season of self-evaluation.” Sort of like Jonathan Edwards did in 1722 and 1723. He established 70 resolutions (call them driving convictions if you like) during a season of life and then reviewed them weekly (not yearly) throughout his life. (You can read all 70 of Edwards’ resolutions here.)

Needless to say, I hadn’t planned on making any resolutions this new year. Or writing about why we should or shouldn’t make resolutions, and what they should or shouldn’t include. But during breakfast earlier this week, I remembered an incident from a year ago. It was a powerfully fresh memory and was so weighty that it was as if God were saying, in a not-so-subtle way, “Here’s the resolution I want you to make this year.” Last (southern hemisphere) summer, our family spent five days at the beach here in south Brazil with my wife’s extended family. Lot’s of fun and relaxation, of course, but I tend to get antsy if I go for more than two days without exercising. In fact, exercise of just about any type is high up on my list of fun and relaxing activities. So on the second day I headed out of the hotel, crossed the street and hit the beach, ready for a long, slow jog. But as I stood looking at the flat beach, I just couldn’t get motivated. It was flat. No challenge in that. As I began to consider my options, I slowly turned around and was greeted with… a challenge! The coastal mountains in southern Brazil are glorious, and they were beckoning! So off I went up the long and winding road toward the highest peak I could spot. After about 30 minutes I began to think that my idea had not been so grand after all, and I considered the possibility of turning back before I hit the peak. It was hot, I was dragging, my knees weren’t what they used to be.

I knew I wasn’t far from the peak. Maybe five hundred meters more. It was hard to tell because I couldn’t see around the curves in the road, but I could sense that I was close. But an internal struggle was raging. The heat, the pain, the “suffering” all joined forces with the left side of my brain. “It’s not worth it. You nearly made it. That’s good enough. You might hurt yourself anyway. Don’t push it. You’re not as young as you once were. And no one even knows or cares if you make it to the peak or not. You’ve already burned at least 600 calories. That’s a fine day’s work right there. Turn around, head back, enjoy the view on the way home.” I was barely making forward progress. I hadn’t given up, but I was oh so close. And then it happened.

Just as I was about to give in and give up, a late-model VW Golf came flying around the corner. Without thinking, I registered that there were two men in the front and two women in the back. At the same time, one of those women, also without thinking and in a very spontaneous way (this all happened very quickly, in the blink of an eye), reacted by jumping up, raising her hands and arms through the open sunroof, and shouting, “Woohoo! Você consegue!” That is to say, “Woohoo! You can do it!”

Seriously?!? I have no idea who those people were. Never saw them before. Haven’t seen them since. Why in the world would they care if I made it to the top or not? And even if they did, why would one of them bother to encourage me, much less do it so enthusiastically?

But you know what? It worked! Boy did it work! Adrenaline instantly started coursing through my veins and I sped up as if I were just beginning my run. The peak no longer stood a chance! I was going to conquer it, and conquer it I did! Those final few hundred meters were a blur (and not due to the fact that I was about to pass out!). I made it to the top (fast!), enjoyed the view, thanked God for my health and adrenaline and the “cheerleader” He had sent my way a couple of minutes earlier. The feeling was exhilarating. I had a deep sense of victory and satisfaction.

On the way back down the mountain, I had plenty of time to process what had happened. In fact, by the time I got back to the hotel, I had an entire sermon outlined in my mind. God reminded me of how life is very often like an uphill journey, one which we are not merely expected to walk, but to RUN (see Heb. 12:1). And no matter how well we start out, there will be obstacles, both internal and external (see John 10:10 and 1 Pet. 5:8) which we must face and overcome. The problem is, we can’t overcome them on our own. Our tendency is to slow down and, ultimately, give up. We are incapable of making it to the top, of experiencing the feeling of victory, without some help. And we have that help, for God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3) Jesus made it possible. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15)

The thing is, when we are in the grind, plodding up the mountainside, we often forget what Jesus has already done on our behalf. What we need is a VW Golf and a cheerleader (or two) to root us on and remind us that “you can do it!” Put biblically, you need people in your life who take 1 Thess. 5:11 seriously: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…” And 1 Thess. 4:18: “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (“These words” refer to the previous verses, in which Paul reminds the believers in Thessolonica that Jesus died and rose again and will come again triumphantly, and that we will rise to meet Him and always be with Him!) And Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16, which talk about letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly so that you may address, admonish and encourage one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

But more than just having these “VW Golf cheerleaders” in your life, you need to BE one. All of the “one another” verses I mentioned above are imperatives addressed to… you! And me. So here’s my New Year’s resolution. It’s my one and only, and it’s a week overdo. But here it is:

Resolved: by God’s grace and for His glory to do and say (jump up and shout “Woohoo, you can do it!”) anything and everything I possibly can in order that everyone in my sphere of influence may advance up their respective mountains, toward their highest peaks, and ultimately “finish the race and keep the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

What hill are you tackling this year? What mountain are you scaling? What long, uphill challenge are you facing? If I may, I have five words for you:

WOOHOO! You can do it!

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I'm João, but you can call me John. Since meeting Christ at age 16, my driving passion has been to glorify Him! I’m a “Great Commission Entrepreneur.” I am passionate about starting and leading anything — mission agencies, churches, businesses — that helps fulfill the Great Commission. I also love to speak, teach, preach and write about God's glory in all areas of life and among all peoples of the world. You can contact me at joao.mordomo@gmail.com; find out more at www.johnmordomo.com; link directly to this blog at www.llvd.net; and follow me on:

FACEBOOK (www.doxologic.al; or click on image)

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