“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This past Easter Sunday—after a particularly fruitful Lent—I had a little mini epiphany (it’s always more dramatic to have an “epiphany” than a mere “idea” isn’t it?). I started thinking how Easter is about rebirth, taking up a new life in Christ. So why not take that very literally? Why not carry my Lenten momentum forward into the Easter season and beyond? I was ready to take up the challenge.
My friend, Arleen Spenceley, once talked about the year-long challenges she gives herself during her single life. She says they aid her spiritual growth because, “following Jesus always requires self-denial, and this is a way to improve my ability to do that.”
I was intrigued by this idea. As I admitted last week, single life doesn’t inherently afford much opportunity for self-denial so I’m realizing (like Arleen) that I need to intentionally introduce it into in my life to avoid the selfishness that single life can lead to. I knew I wanted to take on one of these challenges, but I’m the kind of guy that needs a specific trigger for doing something so I struggled to identify what my challenge would be.
Being me, though, I couldn’t just copy Arleen; I had to put my own twist on it. I was never really into New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of them (very practical and self-improving), but New Year just seems so random to me; just another day on the calendar. So, I never really made New Year’s resolutions. I have, however, usually practiced Lenten sacrifices because of the relevance of Lent and the spiritual fruit they can provide.
The Great Easter Epiphany of 2014
And here comes the epiphany. On Easter Sunday, I decided to combine the spiritual dimension of Lenten sacrifices with the self-improvement aspects of New Year’s resolutions and make… Easter Resolutions. Not just one, though, but three to cover the three dimensions of the person that make us distinctly and uniquely human: mind, body, and spirit. I wanted them to be measurable (to track my progress), attainable (to encourage success), and relevant to where I am in life right now (to see an immediate impact).
After an afternoon of thought and prayer, I came up with my 2014 Easter Resolutions. I’ll keep to these resolutions from Easter Sunday through Shrove Tuesday. On Ash Wednesday I’ll switch back to my traditional Lenten sacrifice.
To keep me accountable, I’m naming them here with a current (somewhat depressing) status report.
Easter Resolution #1 – Mind: Start this Blog
- Target: Publish one blog post per week
- Status: Yellow. I missed a week. This is only my second post in the three weeks after Easter.
I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but didn’t quite know what I wanted to write about. Politics is too annoying and divisive and makes me too angry. Plus I’ve done it before. I’d love to write about Pope John Paul The Great’s Theology of the Body but I’m not knowledgeable enough yet (though I hope to sprinkle it in here and there as I learn). Then Arleen decided to write a book about chastity and asked her Twitter followers to contribute their thoughts and take surveys. I did. And I opened myself up in ways I never had before. It was freeing. I decided that I would use my answers to her interview questions as a launching pad to write about my faith journey, to witness to what God has done in my life. This blog is the result.
Easter Resolution #2 – Body: Get In Shape
- Target: Exercise daily
- Status: Red. Terrible. I’ve missed more days than I’ve done it.
I’m pretty out of shape. I eat too much, used to drink too much (though not any more), and don’t exercise enough, err, at all. As a result, I’m probably 15–20 pounds overweight and not real healthy. I know as I get older, regaining my health will get increasingly difficult so I need to start now. I’m starting with walking 30 minutes each day but hopefully that will change throughout the year. As my body gets stronger and healthier I want to increase the time or intensity of the exercise or change it up with something else (boxing!!) for some variety. Exercising daily is the primary target, whatever form it takes.
Easter Resolution #3 – Spirit: Read Scripture
- Target: Read two chapters of scripture each day
- Status: Totally green! Seriously nailing this one. I missed a couple days while away at a conference last week, but I’m caught up and back on track. BAM!
Confession: I had a head start on this one. For Lent this year I read all four Gospels, two chapters per day, so I built up a nice habit. I also thoroughly enjoyed it and saw the fruits of it in my life so I wanted to continue. But where do I go after reading the Gospels? During Holy Week I also read a great book by Dr. Scott Hahn called A Father Who Keeps His Promises, a book about God’s covenant love for his people as told through scripture. It’s an amazing book. Dr. Hahn is one of our time’s greatest biblical scholars and his writing is engaging and direct. It gave me an intense desire to read the Old Testament, so that’s what I’m going to start with, then move on to the rest of the New Testament. Specifically (if you want to follow along) I’m going to read as follows:
- First the narrative books of salvation history: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Luke, Acts of the Apostles
- Then the Old Testament novellas: Ruth, Tobit, Judith, Esther
- Then the rest of the New Testament after Acts in order
That will take me through February 17, 2015, the day before Lent. With the Gospels I read during Lent, I will have read all of the New Testament and a quarter of the books in the Old Testament of the Bible in just under a year!
I’m very excited about these resolutions. After a pretty rough six months that still continues, I feel like these will help me get back on track to where I was after my reawakening on Easter of 2012. It’s all in God’s hands though. I’m just thankful to be on the ride.
Image: “Jesus” by Roberto Ferrari / https://flic.kr/p/bUsi7