December 24, 2007 & December 31, 2007

By Pastor George Van Alstine

We have a New Year’s tradition of making resolutions. Sometimes these resolutions make a difference in our lives. Most of the time they don’t. They just leave us frustrated with another failure because we haven’t followed through.

So for me, my 2008 New Year’s resolution is not to do anything new or different. My resolution is to finish a lot of the things I’ve started. I don’t need any more items to add to my bag of unfinished projects; I need some successes to help empty my bag a little. I’d like to be able to spend January and February stamping a number of long-term projects “done!â€? At the same time I’d like to reduce the number of things—on my desk, in my car, around the house, at the church, in my mind—that have the label “unfinished.â€? In many cases, I’m the only one who can see the label, but these things are all part of that bag I carry.

Jesus told a parable about the need to count the cost before you begin a project, so that you will actually be able to complete it (Luke 14:28-30). Unfortunately, life doesn’t allow us to focus entirely on one project until we see it through to completion. We have many things to work on at the same time, having to move continually between home, work, hobbies, and life goals. Most of us are juggling lots of these balls at the same time. But some of us seem to be so intent on keeping all our multitude of projects in the air that we’re never able to hold any one still long enough to stamp it “done!â€?

I envy the Apostle Paul, who was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race . . .â€? (2 Timothy 4:7). Certainly, he still had many loose ends and unfinished projects. But he had a sense of proportion, so that he could stamp his major mission in life “done!â€? That’s good.

The Lord Jesus said from the cross “It is finished.â€? He didn’t mean, “I’m finished; I’m defeated.â€? He meant, “My work is finished; I’ve accomplished what I came to do.â€? Only three years of public ministry? Many parables still untold? Many people still unhealed? Yet, at the age of thirty-three, he could stamp his work “done!â€?

I don’t have as clear a focus as either Paul or Jesus. Sometimes my list of unfinished projects seems overwhelming. So I’ve decided not to start with the big things, like my life’s mission. I’m going to attack my desk! I’ll have my “done!â€? stamp in hand, and I’ll have a wastebasket nearby with “really done!â€? marked on the side. Then, by God’s grace, I’ll deal with it item by item. No new resolution; just a determination to complete some old ones and stamp them “done!â€?