A Determined Decade

After tomorrow, when we say “she was born in the 20s,” we won’t mean Gatsby and flappers any more. We’re here, on the crest of a new decade, and who knows what cataclysms of history we’re about to face? So much is unknown, so much is out of our hands, and yet “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” We’re stepping into a story, like Sam.

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.”

A new day will come.

Tomorrow is a great reset button. The dawn of a new day, a new year, a new decade. A chance to start fresh. A chance to dream big.

I’m not big on resolutions, although I am always grateful for a chance to take stock. What was last year like for you? When did you feel stuck, and why? What did you pass up on out of fear? What doubled your joy or multiplied your sorrows?

While I can’t ever seem to stick to a new diet or read all the books, I did write a prayer in the margin of my Bible last New Year’s that stuck with me, shaped my days, lifted my heart. It came straight off the page, and I thought today I’d share it with you: a day-numbering prayer, a life-changing list. Moses’ Seven Resolutions for a Short Life.

It’s right in the middle of the Psalms, God’s age-old soundtrack for sojourners. This is a book to startle us, to soothe us, to teach us how to pray. It’s my desert-island book, the one I’d take if I could only take one—a thin place book, where the veil between heaven and earth is thin as a whisper—a holy ground book. Indeed, if you can only make one resolution this January, maybe spending your days soaked in the Psalms would be as good as any.

In Psalm 90, Moses reminds us how very fleeting life is—dust in the wind, a watch in the night, a dream, a flood, a long blade of grass, a sigh. And then he spells it out, a recipe for resetting our hearts, resolutions fit for the turning of a decade. They’re not so much “I wills” but “oh helps,” not “watch me work” but “Lord have mercy.” And isn’t that a more realistic resolution—the kind that acknowledges I can’t, but God can?

  1. “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Oh, Lord, help me to chase after wisdom. Teach me to center my days such that they center me. I’m foolish, but You are so very wise, and happy to lend me your eyes.
  2. “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity..!” Teach me, Lord, to long for You. Make me thirsty. Wake up my lazy heart, make me desire You. Teach me to structure my days that I may long for Your return.
  3. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love…” Take all that longing, Lord, and draw my heart, first thing in the morning. Wake me up with your love. Tune my heart to sing your praise, right off the bat. May nothing else satisfy, but You.
  4. “…that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad…” Oh, for joy in the new decade! Teach me joy!
  5. “Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power…” Show me your glory, God; teach me to see you. Blow me away. Amaze me. Fill me with awe.
  6. “Let the favor [beauty] of the Lord be upon us…” Teach me, Lord, to number my days, that the beauty of the Lord may be upon me. May your beauty fill my ordinary days.
  7. “…and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” Oh, Lord, for a year, for a decade, charge my days with purpose, grant me vocation that wells up out of who You made me to be, lead me, guide me, establish the work of my hands.

May the next year, the next decade, be for you a new start, a starting-over. May God make His face shine upon you, and give you peace.

PS. If you are interested in starting your year out in Psalms, pick up a copy of Sparrow. It’s a good soak in the Psalms, written to spark new habits of rest and joy and peace.

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