This is a great post from an old college friend who is now a pastor. Wise and practical.
A repost from last year. May God bless you and yours this coming year.
Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came upon him and he uttered his oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened.” – Numbers 23:1-4
Balaam is an interesting man. He is a prophet of God, but he works for an evil Moabite king, Balaak. This puts him in a serious conflict of interest when Balaak summons him to curse the Israelites before they can overrun Moab. When Balaam first gets the request, God tells him not to go because Israel is a people blessed by God. Balaak does not relent and finally God releases Balaam to go as long as he says whatever God tells him to say.
Before Balaam was truly ready to speak on God’s behalf, he needed to go through a humbling experience with a talking donkey and an angel of death. He needed to be reminded that it was better to fear God than a Moabite king. When Balaam finally stands before Balaak, he is clearly a changed man. The result of his transformation is proclaimed in the verse above; Balaam is now “one whose eye sees clearly.”
In the world of optics, resolution is very important; the better the resolution, the better the image. High definition TV’s, high resolution cameras, and prescription glasses are all intended to give us a clearer picture. This is really what our resolutions should be about for the New Year – clearer vision. Resolutions can give focus, clarity and definition to our intentions but that is only part of the picture. It doesn’t help us at all to have good vision if we aren’t looking in the right direction.
I think that was Balaam’s problem. He obviously could see before, but he wasn’t looking in the right direction. He knew that God was on the side of Israel, but he didn’t want to be the one to bless them against the will of Balaak. Once God had opened Balaam’s eyes, they stayed focused on God and not on Balaam’s fears and doubts.
In looking forward to a new year, and making the almost required resolutions, we would do well to check our vision. Is it clouded by negative thoughts, fears and doubts? Are we looking in the wrong direction or at the wrong things? Are the worries and distractions of this world skewing what God wants us to see? This year ask God to give you a vision of where He wants you to go. Be one who “hears the word of God.” This year, if you decide to make any resolutions, make sure they are being made by “one whose eye sees clearly.”
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:22-25
It’s that time of year again…time for resolutions. The tradition has been around for some time now, and there are a handful that are recurring standbys: lose weight, find true love, quit something, finish something or try something. Every year the statistics come out on how many people fail in their resolutions, or how soon they fail their resolutions and yet we keep making resolutions.
James is clear that this failure to follow through is an indicator of where we are as a people. We have become as a society the man who forgets what he looks like. En masse we make our resolutions, clearly seeing what our life would look like if we followed through, but we turn away and become distracted, discouraged and deflated – we forget what it looked like to succeed.
When this happens, we begin to make excuses, rationales for not getting to where we wanted to go. We can even convince ourselves that we didn’t really say that we were going to lose so much weight or watch that much less TV. We are self-deceived.
God calls us to a different level of resolution. In the world of music, the word resolve refers to the progression from dissonance to consonance, from disharmony to harmony. When hear without doing, when we look in the mirror, but don’t remember, we are in disharmony. This requires resolve. Resolutions should be about harmony, but too often they are based on a worldly view of success or attractiveness. We strive after what will only bring more discord.
Maybe instead of a resolution to lose weight you can pursue resolve in being a good steward of God’s temple. (Note to self: good resolution) The idea is to look at areas where disharmony exists and be resolved to pursue harmony. Thankfully we have a mirror that shows us exactly where we are at, where we can be and how we get from one to the other. So make some different resolutions this year, but don’t forget to look in the mirror of God’s law, His word, to help keep you on track.
Faith to believe we can change with His help and the resolve to work toward what we believe – a harmonious approach to the new year.