There is a custom of making a New Year’s resolution, for example: This year I will get organized. These resolutions are notoriously impotent.
By contrast, a decision launches an action or a course of action: Today I will spend an hour organizing my work space. If this is to count as a decision in the sense I have in mind, I must begin organizing now . . . or at least begin the course of action by writing it into the list of the day’s agenda . . . or at least blogging about it (smile). I must not let the sun go down on my decision without following through.
A decision that is tough to carry out takes consecration, engaging every dimension of our being. I need to see the meaning and value of moving toward establishing and maintaining a well-organized work space. As I do so, I become conscious of the divine support that is cheering me on, so to speak. I begin to envision a better work space and how I will function in it.
When we are immature or coping with addiction, we may be able to make a decision for only one day at a time. But when we are mature and in good shape, we can make a decision that commits us for a lifetime.
A great decision alters who we are. It immediately makes us more real. It mobilizes power. That power causes us to be aware when we are in a testing situation. And, yes, a great decision, like an ordinary decision, must be followed through to the end.
Some authors have recognized that when Jesus went into the wilderness, he not only encountered temptations but also made decisions that structured his career as a teacher (Matthew 4; Luke 4). He would not use his powers to satisfy his human needs by trifling with the normal and natural course of nature. He would not pursue “the kingdoms of men” as envisioned in the most common popular idea of the kingdom of God and what the expected messiah would do in a military and political way. He would not appeal to people by sensationalism, miraculous displays of power that short-circuit the freely chosen growth of faith.
His action was two-fold: no to temptation by means of three powerful affirmations:
• Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
• You shall not tempt the Lord your God.
• You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.
Each decision has its quality. If it has quality of meaning, value, and consecration, it strengths us and empowers cooperation with God in carrying out the course of action.
I wish you a happy time as you fill the coming year with even better decisions and actions.
Philips Augustijn Immmanraet, 1663, Temptation of Christ. Photograph by Danuta Rago and Maria Raczyńska 1988 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Immenraet_Temptation_of_Christ.JPG