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Scared About Making A New Year’s Resolution?

Scared About Making A New Year’s Resolution?

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I think with all of the teaching and advice about making new year’s resolutions we can often become quite hesitant to try something new nowadays. You get the perception that those earnestly making new years resolutions are looked upon as being silly or immature, because they are not necessarily doing it in ‘Christ’s strength’.

In truth I admire the kind of people who are willing to try something, to give it a go and see if they can maintain it. A lot of people simply talk about what they want to do and what they aim to achieve, but never actually take any real steps to get there! I love it when people step out and try something new, even if it flops and fails.

Better one step towards the unknown than no steps towards a perfect plan.

During my time studying engineering at university, we once learnt about a phenomenon called Hysteresis. Feel free to Google it, but hysteresis is basically when a physical or electrical component will follow one path in one direction, but then return on an alternative path in reverse. For instance in stretching a spring, it will increase in length in a certain proportion to the force applied, but when that force is removed it may decrease in length in a different proportion: thereby following a different path on reverse. The same could be true when charging and discharging an electrical capacitor; it will follow one path/trend whilst charging, but then return on an alternative path/trend.

I find that this principle applies to us as people too, even quite practically. Have you often found that when you walk from your house to the shops, you may return a different route than which you went? Especially when there are multiple routes to take which are no different in time. Often you find that in reverse you just prefer to go an alternative route, it might seem more logical, it might seem easier, it might not even make sense!

1 Kings 13: 9-10 “For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ ” So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel”

This principle is true in scripture too. 1 Kings 13 tells the story of God sending a prophet to Bethel, but strongly insisting that he does not return the way he came. It is not clear why he was told not to return the way he came, perhaps so no-one followed him, perhaps God had more places for him to go.

God brought me to this scripture this week when I was questioning whether I should stop something or not. It was a clear indication that God did not simply want me to stop what I had started and so simply return to what  I was doing before, but to move on and up to something else. God was okay with me wanting to stop, but wanted me to stop for a reason!

Spiritual Hysteresis

This is where the principle of Spiritual Hysteresis comes in – God does not want us to quit something for the sake of quitting. He doesn’t want us to go away empty handed, not having learnt anything, not grown in any way, not advanced in any direction.

I have found that God is quite fine when we find ourselves wanting to stop something –  but he never just wants us to stop for the sake of stopping so that we return to what we were doing before with nothing gained. If we are going to stop or quit then he wants us to do it right, he wants us to learn something, to come away with something, or to move onto something else.

In short, God wants us to go on a journey, not just go back the way we came.

So this new year don’t be afraid of making a new year’s resolution, even if you are doubtful you will able to maintain it. But always be aware that for every choice and change in life, God wants you to learn something, to discover something, to come away with something, even if it means quitting and stopping what you started.

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