If failing to achieve your goals was an Olympic sport, I would win the gold.
Every New Year, I go crazy with the new-year-new-you, buy-a-fancy-goal-setting-journal-because-this-year-will-be-different kind of kick. Making positive changes in my life is so inspiring to me that I stay up past midnight (a big deal for a guy my age!) putting my dreams to paper, promising myself a brighter future.
And then, I fail. Rather dramatically.
Think I’m being dramatic? The other day I stumbled across a Microsoft Word document I created in 2008 entitled, “My Life Goals.” Included on this well-organized chart was “Raise bilingual kids,” “Max out a Roth IRA between ages 27 and 40,” and “Read the entire Bible 50 times.”
Well…my kids can say “belly button” in Spanish. And I at least opened the IRA . . .
But my audacious goals didn’t end there. I also wrote, “Do five break-dancing windmills in a row” (Google it if you don’t know this B-boy power move), “Learn to beatbox” and “Climb a mountain.”
You read that right. Climb a mountain.
Does a flight of stairs count?
To quote comedian Jim Gaffigan, “I can barely make it to the bank before it closes.”
Have I convinced you? I’m pretty accomplished at falling woefully short of my goals.
Which is why I love GOD.
I put his name in all caps to remind you that I’m not talking about some boring God who is unworthy of your attention or some theologically official God who isn’t better than the best parts of your life. I’m talking about GOD—the divine being whose presence would instantly overwhelm your heart.
I love that GOD because, in three words, he is here.
Whether my kids can conjugate their Spanish verbs or they’ve forgetten what hola means, he is here.
Whether I’m tracking with my retirement goals or praying for Jesus to come back and save me from my ramen-filled future, he is here.
Whether I’m beatboxing or just spitting into my hand in the minivan, he is here.
And through faith in Jesus, he is here for you, too. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’’” (Hebrews 13:5).
That is why Jesus lived for you and died for you and came back from the dead for you. He wanted to achieve his goal of making sure that GOD would be here for you.
So when you lose the weight or gain it, GOD is here. When you overcome the addiction or can’t escape it, GOD is here. When the marriage counseling works or doesn’t, GOD is here. When you control your spending or when you blow it, GOD is here. When you say no to sin or when you have to confess it again, GOD is here.
What I adore about GOD is that he is always here, persistently present, waiting for us when we reach the pinnacle of achievement and when we tumble down into the valley of failure. There’s an unshakable joy found in knowing that the best thing about your year cannot be touched or taken away.
Because our best thing is GOD. And because GOD is here.
Perhaps you’ve heard that one of the most common commands in the entire Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” But do you know what words most often follow it? “For I am with you.”
The solid foundation you need this year is the here-and-nowness of GOD. Your greatest joy does not have to stand on the sinking sand of temporary success, but, instead, can rest on the rock of his eternal presence. That allows you to set goals for growth, knowing that no matter what happens, you will be okay in the end.
Because GOD will still be here.
Before I sign off, there’s one last thing I should tell you about that embarrassing Word document on my computer, something that surprised me enough to spread a smile across my face. In the midst of bucket list goals like “Beat Rock Band on ‘Expert Drums’” (world-changing, I know) and “See Billy Joel in concert” (I don’t remember being that into Billy Joel . . .), I found another goal:
Mike Novotny is a co-pastor at The CORE, a downtown church in Appleton, WI, with a passion to prioritize people who are far from God. As lead speaker for Time of Grace, a media ministry that connected with people more than 54 million times over various platforms in 2019, Mike teaches people to seek God first, see God in all his glory, and be satisfied with God, even if God is all they have. He loves dating his wife and two daughters, continuing his streak of 35 years of playing organized soccer, running long distances (even when not being chased), and reading anything he can get his hands on.