By Colleen Derr

This past fall I thought I had finally cured my lack of a green thumb – a palm tree was growing quite successfully in my home. Planted in rich brown soil, topped with moss, and watered weekly it grew to be a beautiful shade of green with new stocks shooting up, full and tall. People came to visit and commented on my lovely plant. It felt so good to have a live plant growing in my home, and I was quite proud of my apparent success.

One day, as I sat at my desk in my home office admiring my lovely plant, I glanced out my front window and noticed something on my white blind – a few small black spots that began to move.  Curious as to what they were and where they came from, I stood and looked at the windowsill. It was covered in these tiny black, moving spots.  Not only were my office windows covered but my front door’s side windows and my dining room windows were as well.  Further inspection of my house revealed that all of my first floor windows contained these tiny moving spots.  What could they be and where did they come from?

Convinced that those tiny black bugs were attempting to escape the Indiana cold weather, I sprayed all of my windows and doors with bug killer and then eliminated any trace of the unwanted visitors.  Confident to have fully eradicated the menace from my home, I sat down once again to work at my desk.  Within moments something caught my eye – more moving specks!  They were back with a vengeance and my entire front door and foyer floor were covered in them.  After watching their movement for a few moments, it dawned on me that they weren’t coming in to escape a changing climate they were trying to get out.  These unwanted houseguests were attempting to make a run for it out of my home!  Why was that more insulting? A brief investigation exposed the source of the creatures was none other than my beautiful success at indoor gardening – my lovely palm tree!  Removal of the decorative moss revealed thousands of, according to Google, fungus gnats.

My beautiful plant that was a testimony to my newfound gardening success was the source of my bug infestation.  How could that be?  What appeared to be flourishing and healthy on the outside was in fact quite sick below the surface.

Interesting how that can happen to plants and to people.  What may appear to be healthy on the outside might actually be something quite different below the surface.  With my plant I failed to offer care necessary to achieve long-term sustained growth, things like fresh soil, nutrients, and the proper environment.  My lack of sustained attention over the long haul resulted in decay and infestation from within.

As you begin this New Year and think through all the possible options for a New Year’s resolution, consider resolutions that move beyond the external – weight loss and getting in shape – and focus instead on what’s below the surface.   Things that will provide you long-term sustained spiritual growth like fresh soil, nutrients, and a proper environment.

We used to sing a song about resolutions that, while containing some “old fashioned” language, offered some great declarations for “below the surface” health. Palmer Hartsough and James Fillmore wrote “I Am Resolved” in 1896.  Perhaps the words will give you motivation for a resolution that goes below the surface.  Can you read it as a statement of commitment for 2012?

I am resolved no longer to linger, 
Charmed by the world’s delight, 
Things that are higher, things that are nobler, 
These have allured my sight.

I will hasten to Him, 
 Hasten so glad and free; 
Jesus, greatest, highest, 
I will come to Thee.

I am resolved to go to the Savior, 
 Leaving my sin and strife; 
He is the true One, He is the just One, 
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to follow the Savior, 
 Faithful and true each day; 
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, 
He is the living Way.

I am resolved to enter the kingdom, 
 leaving the paths of sin; 
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me, 
Still will I enter in.

I am resolved, and who will go with me? 
 Come, friends, without delay; 
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit, 
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

My beautiful palm tree looked healthy and lush but below the surface was plagued by decay.  Do you desire more than a healthy looking outside?  Do you want to be healthy  and thriving spiritually below the surface?  Consider adding to your resolution list to “no longer linger” but rather “go to the Savior”, follow Him by being “faithful and true each day”, and embrace Kingdom living as you are “taught by the Bible and led by the Spirit”.

I am resolved – are you?