It is 5:20 in the morning, Jan. 1, and Pastor Harvey Womack woke with a start. He had been up past midnight for New Years Eve, had no particular reason to get up early, but it was the beginning of a new year, and something just came over him. He made coffee, got out pen and paper, and sat down to write resolutions.
He had not planned to start the day like this. He had not thought of resolutions at all, until that morning. Then, all of a sudden, it had to be done. Pen seemed to be magnetically pulled to the paper, the ideas seemed to come out of nowhere: 1) Walk or run 5 miles per day.
The whole resolution enterprise made no sense to him. There was no reason to expect that this year would be any different from last year. There is no reason to think that resolutions will be kept for long. But still, he wrote. 2) Read seven chapters of the Bible, every day.
Was this some inner voice that needed expressing? Was it the voice of his parents, saying, do better. Or was it the voice of Jesus? 3) Pray for all the church members every day, no, twice a day.
Jesus was the one who seemed the most interested in perfection. Jesus had said, in the Sermon on the Mount, "Therefore be ye perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect." He had uttered a series of impossibilities - "Love your enemies, and bless them that curse you." "Do not worry about tomorrow." "Judge not lest you be judged." Where any of these commands of Christ fully lived out by his first disciples? Not hardly. But still, he commanded them. Mother Teresa - a hero of Pastor Womack - had written that that Jesus "cannot command the impossible." She believed perfection was possible. Is that why she came so close? 4) Fast twice a week.
Jesus expected so much of his disciples. When the crowd of over 5,000 hungry people needed feeding, Jesus said to one of his disciples, "You give them something to eat." Was this possible? No, of course it was not. Well, yes, for Jesus it was possible. But why had he expected his disciples to do this? Clearly, Jesus believed in his disciples more than they believed in themselves. Is this still the case? 5) Learn Hebrew.
Jesus seems to think that his disciples can love their enemies, trust in him, not to be judgmental. How is this possible? Maybe it is possible because Holy Spirit is inside us, making the impossible, possible? Is this why God never leaves us alone? He knows we can do better? Harvey, leaned forward and continued to write, 6) Lead daily family devotions.
John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn & Mansfield UMC. Send e-mail to