Be Better

“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

This weekend, many people, if they haven’t already, will set about making New Year’s Resolutions. This annual self-help tradition seems to become more and more criticized every year. Some people get fired up to make new resolutions; others finally accept they’ve never successfully kept one in the past. Either way, health expert Adam Bornstein says, “New Year’s resolutions are a great tradition. It’s one of the few times when you make a concentrated effort to write down your goals and become better.”

And across societies, cultures, and socioeconomic stratum there seems to be a basic human desire to “be better.” It’s the “if only” game.
If only I was thinner…
If only I worked harder…
If only I stopped…
If only I spent more time…
If only I did more…
If only I never…

We want more. We want to be more. New Year ’s Day is the promise that we can be better! It’s a day where we believe that we can take what we learned this year and grow!

Unfortunately, when we dream big, we run the risk of falling short. We might fail, or even worse, make a mistake. This seems to create an attitude that it’s easier not to dream; it’s easier not to try. I think the problem with dreams and goals and resolutions is that they lack roots.

Have you ever hiked in the mountains through an area of aspen trees? One of the amazing things about aspen trees is their system of roots. Aspen roots intertwine and grow together until the system is so tangled and fused, that you can’t tell where one tree begins and another ends. One set of aspen roots can actually support dozens of trees. An entire grove or forest of aspens can actually be supported by a single set of roots. Think about it: all of these trees, getting all of the life they need from one source.

Where are your dreams rooted?
We can be rooted in a career
We can be rooted in new possessions
We can be rooted in a relationship
We can be rooted in an activity or hobby.
Society often tells us how to be better. We root ourselves in these expectations. Unfortunately, many of these categories fall apart. Jobs shift. Relationships change. Things leave us empty. Activities eventually grow old. The world is constantly changing, and if we root ourselves in the world, we will always be left feeling lost, broken, and insecure.

But we do need roots in order to grow. We need a foundation on which to build our success. We need a source to re-energize us and give us new life. Luckily, we have faith, which allows us to be rooted in Jesus. He will not shift. He will not change. He will not leave us empty. He will never grow old. His love is the only source that can help us grow.
We don’t always realize that the Love of God is what we want. We want success. We want relationships. We want to be better. But Love is at the heart of the problem. We crave love. We tell ourselves that if we could “be better” we would “be loved.” But God loves us for who we are right now. God isn’t just interested in “fixing us,” He wants to help us grow. If we put our lives in His hands, if we put our faith in His dreams, if we become rooted in Him, we will grow in ways we never imagined.

In Celebration of the New Year, I invite you to listen to this song by Greg Capozzi. It is called “Rooted in Jesus.” I think the lyrics paint several fantastic images of the growth and new life God offers through a relationship with Christ.

May your goals, dreams, and resolutions be rooted in Jesus, and may your New Year be filled with peace, life, and growth!

Zach Herzog

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