Resolve is Direction


One of the curious things I’m beginning to realize about human resolve is that it is less about destination than it is about direction.Don’t get me wrong – I understand the role of outcomes in resolutions. January is the busiest month at our local gym for this very reason, as everyone and their mother-in-law begin dreaming of more fit versions of themselves. They desire to become that stronger person – this is the possible outcome they seek. But the resolve to buy a gym membership and make use of its facilities is a matter of course, of direction, of movement toward their hopeful goal.

Resolution in music is much the same. When a song jars the listener with tones that conflict (as in musical dissonance), it is a movement – a slight adjustment in harmonic tones – that brings the resolution to proper harmony. Again, it is not the outcome that forms the resolution: it is the direction, the course, the movement through the uncertainty toward something certain.

I am reminded of a short passage from 1 Samuel 14 in which Saul’s son Jonathan picks a fight. No small schoolyard brawl, either: this fight is with the mighty Philistines who have attacked and conquered Israel many times before. God had used many judges among Israel to resist the Philistines, and now this charge fell to Jonathan’s father, King Saul. While Saul and his band hesitated to attack the Philistine garrison nearby, Jonathan moved with resolve:

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.”7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”

Jonathan is by no means certain of the outcome – he is not guaranteed a victory. How potent these words: “It may be.” Indeed, it may be that he and his armor-bearer would die at the hands of the enemy. Is this rash foolishness? No; but Jonathan is certain of the direction of God’s heart. As one pastor told me many years ago, Jonathan might fall in this battle but at least he would fall in God’s direction, so that all would see a man resolved to follow God.

As you look forward to the coming year, and speculate and dream and consider your ways, remember that in the midst of uncertainty, resolve is a matter of direction – choosing to follow God’s direction, even as the outcomes are uncertain. In this way, resolve itself is an act of faith. In this way, resolve itself is a kind of victory.


David Ritterbush is a nobody. He believes Christ and occasionally forgets. David has volunteered with Transform Student Ministry since 2006, and happened to meet his wife there.


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