Recently, I came across an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.”
Twenty years ago, digging into the frozen foothills of Appalachia would have been impossible for twelve-year-old Neena… but I don’t think that’s what the proverb is actually suggesting. Rather, the speaker poses that though there may be some inaction we regret not taking in the past, we should go forth and pursue what we wish we had started earlier. Stop smoking, start exercising, quit the nail biting, or begin learning a new language: we can start all of those things today. Our trees may not be bearing juicy apples by the weekend, but at least the seeds will have been planted.
I’m still taking down Christmas decorations and clinging to celebrations despite (or maybe because of) the cold. There is so much promise to a whole new year, and yet I know we are never actually promised anything past the present.
The First of January has come and gone, and I’ve already deemed some resolutions as futile efforts… but are they really? The secret to being consistent is this: Be consistent. Do it again. Then again. And again. Mess up? Then start over.
Life offers many new beginnings: Spring, the start of school, baptisms, a new job, home, or baby. With a little perspective change, we could even all resolve to view Mondays with the hopeful anticipation of a fresh start verses the usual Monday Blues. Jesus offers us a fresh start without regard to any calendar, cleanliness, or criteria… just trust Him. Every breath is another opportunity to live thankfully and intentionally.
So yes, even though it’s January, go and plant some seeds. Spend some time cultivating the habit or resolution until it’s really taken root and become a part of you. I just ask this: plant something good.