Given the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, it is easy to feel like God hard-wired us to be attracted to fresh starts. We all like new things, and a new year is no exception.

It is estimated that right now over 127 million well-intentioned Americans set goals for the New Year. Get fit, save money, stop eating fast food, quit smoking. We’ve all had a list, and setting goals is admirable. 

But on December 11, 2016 a University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology study revealed that just 8% of people who make New Years resolutions actually achieve them.

That’s not a typo. New Years resolutions boast a 92% failure rate.

It’s easy to assume why this may be the case; lack of seriousness and accountability, not having an actionable plan, or even sheer laziness. I just wonder if it is not something less obvious. After all, 92% of 127 million is still a lot of million. And this is recurring annually without improvement.

As disciples, how do we fit into this narrative? 

If God put Jesus on earth to accomplish something specific and change the world and you’re a disciple of Jesus, then God put you on earth to accomplish something specific and change the world. If we’re going to be a force for Christ in the world around us this year it only makes sense to start strong.  

The question we ought to ask is how did Jesus begin?

These are the four things scripture tells us Jesus did before his ministry began:

  1. Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21)
  2. Jesus spent time alone with God (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1,2)
  3. Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:2)
  4. Jesus used scripture to overcome temptation (Matthew 4:4-11, Mark 1:12, 13, Luke 4:3-13)

If that’s how Jesus kick-started his ministry, it’s worth us considering kick-starting our year the same way. I wonder if 118 million people won’t achieve their goals because they’re not preparing properly?

What if we resolved to take time over the next few days preparing for 2017 the way Jesus prepared for his ministry – spending time alone with God, fasting, and meditating on the word? (And if you’ve not been baptized publicly by water, there’s probably no better way to start your new year!)

I gave this New Year prep method a shot this year, and found not only did my goals not come close to what God had in store, I realized God just wants more of me, not more from me. I’ll close 2016 extending a kind encouragement to you to do the same. 

May 2017 be your most impactful year yet and may you have a Holy New Year.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.”Ephesians 3:20

(This is a reflection after preparing for 2017 the way Jesus prepared for his ministry.) 

In Mark 10:46-52 Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting on the side of the road, yelled out for Jesus to have mercy on him. The people told him to be quiet, but that didn’t stop him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and gave a command for Bartimaeus to be called to him. I like to imagine everyone fell quiet. Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, sprang up, and went to Jesus. But what happens next is the first fascinating scene in this story.

Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)

This question strikes me. Jesus had to know Bartimaeus wanted sight. But he still asked him what he wanted. 

I am reminded that clarity is essential to live the life of a disciple. I end 2016 with the presupposition that I am blind to what God has for me and for BOBIC in 2017. But I do know Jesus and seek his leading into, during, and through 2017.

Jesus knows what is best for me and for BOBIC, but I wonder as I approach Him, if he will ask me the same question he asked Bartimaeus. “What do you want me to do for you Christian?” 

Bartimaeus, as we know, asked for his sight to be recovered. Here comes the second fascinating highlight in the story.

When Jesus healed other men who were blind, he touched them (Matthew 9:29, Matthew 20:34), laid hands on them (Mark 8:22-25) or anointed them with dirt (John 9:6,7). But not for Bartimaeus.

Instead, Jesus just said, “Go, your faith has healed you.”

In 2017, will Jesus be able to respond to my petitions by saying to me, “Go, your faith . . .”? I want the answer to be yes.

Bartimaeus was a man of faith, but it didn’t stop him from crying out for mercy, even in front of a crowd of people telling him to hush up. I bet it was all the more reason for him to shout. In light of this interaction, I am less concerned with what to ask for and more focused on how Jesus might respond to me.

However I choose to answer Jesus asking me what I want, I want him to be able to respond with an acknowledgement of my measure of faith in him.

As for Bartimaeus’ reaction to Jesus healing him with just a few words then telling him to go? “…And immediately he recovered his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.” (Mark 10:52)

As a weak man, I still ask for help.

I am asking and striving for nothing more than an increase in my faith in Jesus Christ and that as it increases, any selfish desire or ambition be killed. I want to move forward in 2017 with the clarity that only comes from Christ and a peace that transcends all understanding.

Bartimaeus chose Jesus when he was blind and he chose Jesus when he could see. I have a hundred ideas about what 2017 might hold for my family and for BOBIC, but apart from Christ they’re all worthless. I reaffirm my choosing Jesus and ask him to have mercy on me and give me a bold faith like Bartimaeus.

How would you respond if Jesus called for you and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”