The Flash and Flicker of Our Promises

​As the last few hours of 2018 fade away into yesteryear, with the first breaths of the new year upon us, I am going to go ahead and share with you, that for me, the upcoming year will encompass the big “D.”  Yep… afraid so.  It needs to be.  I’m not ashamed.  There are a lot of folks that come to that same place in life.  I will just have to work through it.  Now, wait a minute, I know what you are thinking.  It’s not that big “D.”  Heck, I’m not even married!  It is the big “D” that I have struggled with this whole past year – Discipline!

Since my early retirement, I have been able to keep myself pretty well lined out, discipline-wise.  I’m not sure what it was about 2018, but I could not seem to get all my ducks in a row.  I was  constantly in a state of chaos and trying to wade through one thing when I didn’t even have the previous thing completed.  I blamed it on any number of things, other than myself, throughout the year – the holidays, the cold weather, snakes, the heat.  I think, where I let my guard down during the first part of the year, it sort of set the tone for the rest of the year.  That is why, cultivating the big “D” and getting lined out early this year is important to me.

Trust me, it is not that I have any overly ambitious new year’s resolutions.  I’m not making any promises that I (may, or may not) be able to keep.  What I do have in mind to is make the whole year a ramp-up to discipline.  I am going to tackle it one chunk at a time, or “one check-box” at a time.  My immediate plan of action is to get back to writing myself a “to-do” list for each day.  I tend to be more productive and get much more accomplished by doing this.

I remember the days of adamant resolutions that I was absolutely-positive would make it all the way through… you can stop snickering any time now.  There was the time I was determined to let my hair grow out long.  I promised myself that I would be patient and not get frustrated and really see it through.  I fought with my straight, wispy, stringy, baby fine (Did I say straight?) hair throughout the spring and summer and most of fall.  You guessed it.  It got chopped back off into my mop-top pixie cut.  It almost always gets cut back into the pixie cut!

I would be embarrassed to mention how many times that losing weight was one of my promises to myself.  We can just say that it is a lot!  I even thought about jumping on the “phen-phen” bandwagon back in the day.  After I made the initial approach, it just scared me to think of putting something that I had no clue about into my body.  Plus, my doctor (who was a grizzly old army doctor) busted my chops for even making the suggestion!  I am really glad now that he did.  Common sense goes a long way.

I know that I am one of the many that have made that promise to read their Bible every day and all the way through in one year.  That is one promise that I have been able to keep; but… that first “legalistic” year it ended up being more about checking off that I did it, than about appreciating the content and seeking to gain and grow from it.  So, really, even though it was a promise kept, it was still kind of a fail.

The first entry for discipline in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary states that discipline is “control gained by enforcing obedience or order,” “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior,” and just good ole “SELF-CONTROL.”  I think that third one wraps up the first two pretty well.

In my quest for developing discipline this year, the main thing I want back is control over the areas that are controllable.  I need order, structure — control.  I want to work on a closer, deeper relationship with my Lord.  I want to take better care of my body in a day-by-day sort of way.  I am not so focused on losing weight as I am about getting my body in a better, healthier shape and concentrating on nutrition.  Nutrition-wise, I am interested in more plant-based and less animal-based.  (Nope, don’t think I would ever be a full-fledged vegetarian, but I hope to adopt a good balance with the vegetarian side maybe getting a little more weight.)  I want to be healthier so I can feel better and thereby be more productive.  Getting busy and putting my nose to the grindstone with my writing projects is a big want-to for me this year.   I really do have to keep my focus, find a way to minimize distractions, and make sure that writing every day is a priority for me.

It is very interesting how God throws things at me when I am thinking about a topic to write about.  I’d started this post on discipline and keeping promises to myself.  It pretty much sat there all week.  It was moving slow.  Then a couple of questions my pastor asked Sunday fit right in and got my thought process moving again.  First, he questioned us as to why we break promises to ourselves.  We aim high making resolutions and then as the year (or years) pass by, we lay them aside because they don’t fit our schedule any longer or we get tired of keeping them up, or we just lose interest.

The second question was much more important.  “Why do we fail to keep the promises that we make to God?”  There are probably very few people that have not uttered the words, “Lord, if You will just get me out of this….”  I’ve been there.  I have also failed my God more times than I care to remember and have been unable, or unwilling, to keep promises made.  I ache with the weight of those hastily spoken words, words that are still spinning out into eternity somewhere, never to be retrieved, with the knowledge that I have Matthew 12:36 waiting on me.

The most important thing, and my living hope, is that, even though I have broken promises to God, He has never broken one single promise to me.  I rest on the promises that He gives me in His Word.  He promises His grace and forgiveness. (Titus 2:11, John 1:9)  I have the assurance that He will never leave me alone because He has gifted me with the presence of the Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Luke 24:49)   He has made me an heir to His kingdom, and even though I do let Him down, He continues to strength me so that I can work through those situations and gain experience and wisdom to use on down the road. (James 2:5, Isaiah 41:10)

 I am so thankful for the future that I have as a member of the King’s family and the knowledge that although our promises to God can sometimes be a flash and flicker in time, His promises to us are absolutely eternal.

I wish you a very blessed New Year.


Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  (2 Peter 3:13  ~~ KJV)

Photo credit: SodanieChea on / CC BY

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