The Peanuts characters Lucy and Charlie Brown were having one of their deep philosophical discussions. Lucy said something like, “Charlie Brown, imagine you are on a cruise ship in the middle of a beautiful sea. Some people on the ship arrange their deck chairs at the back of the ship facing where they have been. Some sit on the side and look out at where they are. And some like to face their deck chairs toward the front to see where they are going. Charlie Brown, on the great cruise ship of life, which direction is your deck chair facing?
“Lucy,” he replies slowly. “I can’t even get my deck chair open.”
There may be something to this deck chair philosophy, but it is probably too simplistic. At different times, most of us could fit into each of the categories. The main problem with deck chair philosophy is it makes us all passengers being carried along, rather than participants who do more than just watch the waves go by. Recognizing that there usually is something we can do to improve any situation, at the start of each new year we tend to re-examine our lives. We try to think of ways to become better people by the time this year ends—something that seems to happen a lot faster than it used to.
Would I like to be thinner, wiser, healthier, kinder, less forgetful, more patient—or is this as good as I can ever expect to be? Most of us would have to admit that there’s room for improvement. So in come the resolutions. Whether we write them down or merely think about them, we try to set a goal and navigate toward it. Plans help—a diet, a reading schedule, an exercise class, notations on a calendar, a notebook organizer, etc.
Although it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution, the apostle Paul believed in the concept: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13b-14 NIV).
Jonathan Edwards, an 18th century preacher, also believed in resolutions. He kept quite a list. Here are a few (I have modernized his English to make them clearer):
Resolved, to do whatever I think to be most to the glory of God and my own good…and to do whatever I think to be my duty for the good and advantage of mankind in general.
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
Resolved to live with all my might, while I do live.
Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge…never to speak evil of any one.
Resolved, to study the Scriptures steadily, constantly, and frequently, so that I may grow in the knowledge of the same.
Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.
That’s a pretty tough, all-inclusive list. This year as you think about change and setting sail into 2011, ask yourself and God a question: in what area could I do better than I have done in the past? Once you have the answer, set your course and pull away from the shore of indecision.
You won’t have to worry which direction to face your deck chair on this cruise. You will have joined the Captain at the helm.