This morning when I woke up, I remembered a Chinese proverb that goes like this:
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”
Lots of people make resolutions on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately the best intentions in the world easily get laid aside once we have to go back to work tomorrow. Life has a way of intruding on our desire to make a new start. We want to be better or different or to break out of a rut or to take a risk or to break a bad habit or end a negative relationship or set out in a new direction. I’ll bet half the people in America want to lose weight this year.
And this time they really mean it!
We want to be like Valerie Bertinelli or Dan Marino or that other guy on the commercial who lost weight and declares, “My wife says I’m not as repulsive now.” Well, that’s a start.
Or maybe this is the year you want to plow some new ground spiritually.
You could read through the Bible in 2008.
You could decide to be baptized.
You could join a short-term missions trip.
You could memorize Romans 8.
You could get involved in a small group.
You could take an online course in how to study the Bible.
You could start a prayer journal.
You could help start a Moms in Touch group.
You could pick 10 good books you want to read this year.
You could stop making excuses and join a church.
You could join the choir.
You could start praying for 3 friends to come to Christ.
You could read “My Utmost For Highest Highest” by Oswald Chambers
You could listen to Christian music while you work out.
You could volunteer to help out at a local public school.
You could try to heal a broken relationship.
You could fast one day a week.
You could pray for an unreached people group.
You could volunteer to help the sound team at your church.
You could visit your local jail once a month.
You could ask God to help you grow in patience (or joy or courage) this year.
What holds us back? Very often it is the feeling that no matter what we do, we’ll be the same a year from now as we are today. When we look back on failed resolutions from the past, it’s easy and very human to think, “What’s the use? I’ll never change.” And it’s true that most diets that start today will end by Friday. And lots of people who pledge to stop smoking will break their pledge later today. Stopping something bad and starting something good is always hard. That’s why most of us stay the way we are.
This is Day 1 of 365 days that come gift-wrapped from heaven. And you have the privilege today of starting over again–or at least making some changes you know you need to make.
Don’t let past failures hold you back. Before this day is over, jot down some goals you’d like to accomplish in 2008. Write them down. Print them out. Put the list where you can see it at least once a week.
Go ahead. Plant a tree. Put that seed in the ground. Yes, you should have done it yesterday, but yesterday is gone forever so don’t worry about what might have been.
Just do it.
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.
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About Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 27 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 37 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and two grandsons--Knox and Eli. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.
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