Every New Year an astonishing number of people in the Western world resolve to lose weight and to make their health, appearance and lives more what they want them to be. Every year the vast majority of those tens of millions of people fail. Most resolutions only last a month or so – if that – and “I want to lose weight” becomes “I wanted to lose weight, but …”.
In talking about laying aside the extra weight, the author of Hebrews wasn’t talking about physical weight, of course, but about stripping away things that affect us in the race which we run. The same can be said about all kinds of racing – from sailboats to cycles: the less non-essential weight we pull, the less we are slowed down.
That’s a principle that can affect us as we go into a new year, also – again, not in terms of physical weight, but the weight of responsibilities and activities that slow us and give us less time for more important things. Each year many of us make resolutions to try to do better at some of the things that are important to us – perhaps to spend more time in prayer, study, or service. But adding more things to do to an already full “to do” list is often doomed from the outset.
Yet we try. For example, here in the United States it is estimated that about 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions – but only about 8% of those who make resolutions say they are successful in carrying them out. It’s certainly not for the lack of desire, but one of the leading reasons people give for failed resolutions is simply lack of time – the discouragement of trying to add an extra physical workout or daily Bible study session to an already overloaded day.
That’s where running lighter comes in. The quickest, most effective way to run faster, more easily, more effectively, is to drop non-essential weight. The way to live more easily, more effectively, is often to drop non-essential things that slow us down. Here’s where it comes down to resolutions. A recent study of successful resolution makers found an interesting similarity between people from many different backgrounds and lifestyles: those who were most successful in adding something they desired to their lives were very often the ones who dropped or cut back some non-essential in order to do it.
It’s the simplest of principles, but it’s one that works. If you would like to really make progress in a good direction this year, why not resolve to add something you know you need in life – more time with the Book, more time in prayer, more time in helping others, or whatever. But if you don’t want to become one of the 92% who resolve but fail – drop something else. It might mean less time in front of the television or the computer, less time texting or shopping, or any number of things that take your daily time. It can be anything that could be trimmed back a little, cut down some.
The fact is, if you are careful to drop something for everything you resolve to add, cut back something for everything new you want to do, your chances of success are increased dramatically. So if you have wanted to do more in some aspect of your Christian life, try doing less in some other area of your day and see how it helps.