My List

I didn’t know how to answer the question.

Not usually at a loss for words (unless the word needed is the name of the person standing in front of me), this time I had no good answer.  The young man before me had stated his query in a perfectly understandable manner, but I was instantly in a fog.

“What kind of resolutions are you making for the new year, Mister Paul?”

I stood stammering.  Me!  Stammering!

It wasn’t that ideas wouldn’t come to me; there were so many of them spinning through my brain at supersonic speed that the air traffic controller had broken down.  They filled the already limited space in my head, and more were circling every second.

Exercise more.

Read more.

Stop procrastinating.

De-clutter my workspace.

Study the Bible daily.

Give more generously.

Be more sensitive to others’ needs.

Get more sleep.

Well, the last one, I just threw in there to make sure my readers are still paying attention.  It won’t happen.

The point is clear though, isn’t it?  There is no lack of things which need to be remembered, no dearth of projects with which to fill the new year.  All of it.  Until it is a very old year.  I need an awful lot of self-improvement.  An awful lot.

When I finally could form words again, I took the easy way out.  Well, I had to stop the supersonic barrage inside my brain somehow!

“You know, I really don’t believe in making resolutions.  It’s so easy to forget them, and frustrating too.  So, no.  I’m making no resolutions for the coming year.”

We talked a little more and, appropriately impressed at my wise discernment (you see how easily the youth of today can be fooled?), he went home to reconsider his own need for a list of resolutions, as well.  I was left to ruminate about the conversation, as well as the depth of my discernment.

I’m not quite so impressed as he.

A cop-out is a cop-out, no matter the terms in which it is wrapped.  Noble sounding platitudes often hide some pretty dishonorable truths.

My life is a mess.  A mess.

The folks around me see just what I want them to see, with a misstep or two thrown in occasionally.  On the surface, I may appear to have this thing called life pretty well down to a science.  Like Mr. Banks in the children’s story of Mary Poppins, I seem to have it scheduled and scripted, leading one to believe I can be the captain of my own ship and control all around me.  It is all a charade.

All of it.  A charade.  A sham.

So, I dig down deep and reach through the supersonic storm inside and grasp one cogent thought out of the thousands circling endlessly.  One.  It will have to do.

One resolution for the list.  The rest will have to wait their turn.  Possibly next year.  Or the next.

Call it desperation.  Call it lame.  It’s the best I can do this year.  Even as I write this, I realize the truth of the matter.  That word describes it perfectly.  For me anyway.

This resolution is the best I can do.  The best.

Here is my list in its entirety:

In the coming year, I will endeavor to continue to do the things which I did last year.

That’s it.

I think it is a gracious plenty.  Perhaps a word or two of explanation is in order, though.  I’ll try to be succinct, a trait which is not in my nature.

I know that my goal-making friends are already aghast at my lack of vision.  It’s not a very ambitious list; I freely admit it.  I hear the words already:  If you aim at nothing, that’s just what you’ll hitFailure to plan is a plan to fail.

All the slogans in the world won’t shift me from my resolve.  You see, I know a good number of people with lofty goals who have forgotten what they came here for.  In the world surrounding us, we see it over and over–folks remember inerrantly the things they are reaching for, necessities determined along the way, but cannot recall the most basic of tenets which have guided them to this point.

It’s not only the over-achievers who forget, though.  Everyday folks, people like you and like me, are falling down around us like dominoes, pushed over one by one–by life and the forgetfulness that comes with neglect.  Opposite though the cause my be, the effect is the same.  The path forgotten, all that has been gained is lost.  

Next year, I want to remember.  I want to continue.  I want to keep moving.

Straight ahead.  One slow step at a time.

This last year, I attempted to follow (as I have for many years) the truths I have held for most of my nearly sixty years on this spinning ball of dirt and water.  I made more than a few mistakes, falling short again and again.  It will happen again next year.  I can say that with certainty.  No matter.  I’ll go on.

You see, I’ve made promises.  Some, I spoke aloud to my God and to the people in my life.  Some, I whispered in the dark of night when no one else was listening.  I’m going to do my best to keep all of those promises.

I’ll die trying anyway.

Those other things–the supersonic wave of resolutions circling in my head?  They don’t have to be written down on any list.  I didn’t put them in my head on my own.  They’ve already been written on my heart by a loving God who wants only the very best for His children.  All I have to do is walk in His pathways faithfully.  I’m reminded, by His Spirit, of the responsibilities I have as I trudge along the road.

So, now you know.  My grand ambition in life is to keep walking down the same road I’ve wandered along all the years I can remember.

The company has been superb.  I hope the fine folks who’ve accompanied me thus far will agree to continue along with me for a ways further.

I’ve still a fair number of promises to keep.

And die trying.

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…”
(Revelation 2:4,5a ~ NASB)

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
(from Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening ~ Robert Frost ~ American poet ~ 1874-1963)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “My List

    1. Thanks Keren! As unsure as we are about the future, we can be certain that His hands will guide us step by faltering step to our destination. I’m ready to walk into 2015. There are surely good things to be found on the journey. Blessings!

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