Resolve to bring Light into darkness

Commentary by W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Someone once said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And who among us is not guilty of the hollow pledge of an intended goodness? I know I am, which is why I have not made any New Year’s resolutions for the past few years. After all, why pledge something only to break it? This year will be the exception.

Enough prefacing. My 10 resolutions for 2019 follow:


Life is hard, and people we truly love (or otherwise care about) will sometimes hurt us. That’s an inescapable fact. Why? We’re all broken. At the extreme end of the inflicted hurt spectrum is betrayal. We’ll save that for another discussion. At the lesser end of the spectrum is where those whom we love will reject, ignore, and dismiss us – and our feelings – in ways wherein they might even cleverly try to blame us for the very rejection we feel. That’s painfully manipulative (think “gaslighting”) and unfortunate. So what do we do? We love them. Yes, we love others despite what or how they may feel about us. Love. Love. LOVE. Am I overstating this? Hardly. Love is the most powerful, Red Sea-parting, earth-shattering emotion and action imputed into our natures by Almighty God.

Love is not caving to anything. It’s power, and the power to refuse the ‘lack of love’ if we may call it that. Remember John 1:5 which says, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [overcome] it.”

So as one of my resolutions for 2019, I resolve to love my family, my friends and all I encounter with a love that utterly refuses the selfishness, jealousy, and rejection of the world. Scripture tells us that “love covers over a multitude of sins.” In other words, LOVE vanquishes the ills and wrongs of the world. Love quashes the unloveliness.

As I am now nearly 60 and it’s taken me this long to figure it out (though not suggesting I’ve figured all of it out), I’ve discovered that nothing on this earth is more formidable against evil and brokenness than love. It is what the enemy hates most, and it is the righteousness-infused emotion (and action) that God wants us to know works best. So if and when I fail to love, I’ll remind myself that I’m pledged to love.


Encourage others. This is something of an extension of the first resolution “to love,” and it’s a refusal of my natural inclination to judge. Instead of judging my fellow man, why not expend that energy on lifting him or her up: A kind word, a kind note, a pat on the back, an attaboy. In fact, every single time the opportunity to encourage another presents itself, we should be encouraging. It’s not always easy. But why can’t it become a habit like anything else? It can and will.


Return to my roots as a volunteer helping the homeless. Why did I stop? No time? Gracious, did I not once trust God to make the time for me? And wasn’t it always the best time spent and the most personally rewarding effort I’d ever been involved in?


Eat better and train harder. I love food (and all the wrong things), and physical conditioning is far tougher at my age than it was at any other time in my life. I know how to eat, so I don’t need a nutritionist. I know how to workout, so I don’t need a trainer.

I also need to accept that PT is tough and it’s going to get tougher. My near-90-year-old stepdad reminds me, “It’s not going to get any easier with age.” And a doctor friend once told me, “The days we are busiest – which equates to being the most-stressed – are the days we need to stop and briskly walk somewhere for at least a mile.” So, a mile a day at least every other day without fail for starters, regular gym visits with personal strength goals (I do enjoy the competitive part of that), and brown rice instead of white. Nothing dramatic. No excuses either.


More fervent praying. I pray daily and often. But it’s never enough, and it’s not always in ‘the way of the heart’ that it needs to be. In James 5:16 we read, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” That’s true, and it gives us two things to strive for: First, effectual fervent prayers. Second, the righteousness which is only attained through Christ. The reward? Much!


Share the Gospel. I often talk about Christ with my Christian friends. But my outreach to unbelievers and those on the fence is sorely wanting. That must change. It will, and I will develop a personal plan toward this.


Work harder professionally. Yes, but not so much harder as smarter. Manage my time better, delegate more and trust in that delegating.


Do everything humanly possible to in some way, daily, serve the needs of my near-84-year-old mom and near-90-year-old stepdad. They need me. God has so richly blessed me with their lives. And I am so grateful for that and them.


Never fail to give my near-two-year-old grandniece every possible desire of her heart. She too is a blessing from God, and the one I always think of when I think of James 1:17 which says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”


Regularly reread this list of resolutions and recommit to them regardless of any personal or professional setbacks; accepting that though I may find myself in a third-and-long going forward, that is never an excuse not to artfully battle my way back into the game. I will, and I hope others will take a note from these resolutions and do so similarly. Happy New Year all.

– W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a New York Times bestselling editor and military technical advisor. Visit him online at

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