I’ve always had trouble with New Year’s; the concept, the resolutions, things dropping etc. Now this may seem odd coming from someone who loves beginnings of any kind (see very first post) but I don’t see New Year’s day as a beginning. I mean it’s the middle of winter, the middle of the school year, the middle of the fiscal year for many, and middles are a whole different thing than beginnings. We don’t celebrate middles nor commemorate them. We acknowledge and celebrate and commemorate beginnings and endings in every aspect of our lives. Births, deaths, weddings, divorces, new jobs, retirements, starting school, graduations, making the team, winning the championship, etc. Not so with middles.
Middles are messy. The middle of anything can be monotonous, made up mostly of the mundane day to day details that drive our days. Middles are murky and meandering, we can easily lose momentum, we can easily lose our way. The middle may be mellow, devoid of the highs and lows that accompany most beginnings and endings, but still full of feeling, of longing or anticipation, of dread or despair. When we are in the middle of anything it is often slow going and we are left to muddle through, making the most of every moment. Making sure we don’t lose our way.
Now, lest middles get a bad rep here, let me just say that the middle of an Oreo is the sweet spot of the cookie. The middle of a sandwhich is where the meat is. And it’s precisely in the middle where the real work of living our life is done. It is in the middle that life is lived, friendships formed, skills acquired, services rendered, dreams pursued. We live our lives in the uncelebrated, unheralded middle; punctuated by numerous beginnings and endings marking this or that; but by and large we live out our moments in the middle. In the middle of school, in the middle of a marriage, in the middle of a career, in the middle of raising children, in the middle of an illness, in the middle of training for the marathon, in the middle of being on our way to whatever it is. We live our lives in the middle.
We are living in middle times. Jesus has come and lived and died and risen and returned to heaven. He has told us that He is coming again. “‘Men of Galilee’, they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'” (Acts 1:11) “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'” (Revelation 21:3-5)
Now that’s what I call a NEW YEAR! A true beginning, the old is gone, the new has come. Not more of the same with a different spin or twist or a different name. Truly something new and different. Until then, we are living in the middle, between Jesus’ incarnation and His return to earth. We are waiting for His return, for that new beginning to began.
But we do get a preview of what is to come. Each day is a new beginning/clean slate in and of itself. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are NEW every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
And there’s more good news. When God said He was making everything new, that includes me! I don’t have to rely on myself, on making New Year’s resolutions that I ultimately can’t and won’t keep anyway. I don’t have to try “twenty minutes a day to a better me” or “five things that will ensure my career success in the New Year” or “the secret super foods that will change my life” or “three ways to find lasting love in the New Year”.
My Creator is at work in me, creating something new. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5:17) Now that’s what I’m talking about! Who needs New Year’s resolutions when we have the very power of our Creator available to us for the humbling and the asking? And He is faithful.
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) No matter how many times I fail, God never gives up on me. Even if I give up on myself, He is faithful.
God has given me a new heart and a new life and His mercies to me are new every morning. There may be nothing “new” about New Year’s (except the date on the calendar) but there’s everything new about the life God offers each of us through His Son, Jesus.
Now we see through a glass darkly, as we muddle through this middle, but then we shall see face to face. So I think, dear readers, the more truthful salutation that I will offer you on this New Year’s day is, a Merry Middle to you! May your Mountains become Molehills (instead of vice-versa), may you both receive and grant Mercy unconditionally and may your Mustard seed of faith enable you to recognize and rejoice over the Miracles God grants you each day.
sincerely, Grace Day