well, it’s that time once again — time to welcome in a new year. I use the word “welcome” realizing that may not be the word others would choose to use in reference to the advent of a new year beginning. Now as I’ve said before, dear readers, I like beginnings; the beginning of almost anything. There’s just something so hopeful about a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning where all things are possible and defeat and disappointment haven’t entered in yet. It’s a pain free place where, suspended in time, we await the turning of the page on the calendar, the dropping of the ball and the striking of the clock; signaling the start of this next as yet unmarred journey full of infinite possibilities and empty for the briefest of moments of all hurt and heartache.
Then the ball drops, the clock strikes its’ final stroke, we turn the page on our calendar and . . . and what? What now? we ask ourselves. What is different than a moment ago? “Well, that depends,” (I answer myself, as I often do) Whether or not I get that clean slate, that fresh start really depends on me and what I decide to carry with me into this new year, into my new beginning; and what I decide to let go of and leave behind. I get to decide, no one can decide that for me. But what I decide will make all the difference for me in the coming year.
And in that moment, I realize why my New Year may seem anything but new as I live it out day by day. I find that I have carried the old with me into the new; I have brought many things “old” into my “new” year, cluttering my clean slate. It is not a new beginning at all, my clean slate isn’t really clean if I bring all my old mess with me. In fact, my slate was never clean to begin with.
Then I remember some of my favorite words, “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) Every day is New Year’s Day for me, because of this promise to me from my Creator. Because of His compassion (mercy, forgiveness, grace) to me, that I can receive new every morning, each day is truly a fresh start, a clean slate for me if I so choose. My God stands ready and willing to make it happen each day. All I need do is to ask Him.
Each day is full of hope and promise, of unlimited possibility. Each day begins unmarred by yesterday’s mistakes. Except for what I bring into it from yesterday. Now some things are worth holding onto, but others that I hold onto end up holding me back and weighing me down. Some things, like my faith, I want to cling to, to continue to carry with me into each new beginning, be it a new day or a new year.
But other things that I continue to carry, (bad habits, unforgiveness) I need to let go of and leave behind. I need to realize what no longer serves me well, what is no longer needed (maybe never was needed) what has become a burden and a barrier to my progress.
What to continue to carry forward? What to let go of and leave in the past? The trick is in figuring this out. And each time that we do, we come closer to our clean slate, our fresh start and our Happy New Year. I found some good advice in Philippians and in Hebrews. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.”
and conversely, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, . . . Consider Him (Jesus) . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Yes, if I don’t learn to let go and to throw off, my burden becomes increasingly heavy and in time, unbearable. Now some burdens I choose myself, while others are thrust upon me through unforeseen, unplanned, uninvited circumstances that surround me against my will. All changes are not of my choosing, but I can choose my response to each and every one of them. And I have Someone who bears my burdens. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19) that’s DAILY, not just sometimes. how comforting and encouraging is that!?
And just as wonderful, God wants to give us rest. We need and so we seek physical rest. But there’s something we need even more, something better, something more important, something more lasting. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Rest for my soul, rest for your soul. Now that’s something I wish for you in the New Year, dear readers, rest for your souls. We are a seeking, searching culture; but often we don’t realize nor do we recognize what it is that truly satisfies our souls and so we continuously search, wearing ourselves out in the process.
We continually crave that fresh start, that new beginning that will last. And one day that will happen. “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,” (Isaiah 65:17) “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, . . . 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.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
But for now, dear readers, until that final, last new beginning, I wish you a Happy New Year. And in wishing you a Happy New Year, dear readers, I wish for each of you a year of challenge and opportunity, a year full of meaning and purpose, a year rich in relationships, a year filled with reconciliation, with forgiveness, with second chances and happy endings. (Hallmark style or otherwise) Notice I didn’t say anything about money, power, privilege or promotion. That’s because history has shown that these things don’t satisfy us nor do they sustain us.
” . . . Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
I wish for you all God’s good gifts in the New Year and God’s gifts are always good.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
sincerely, Grace Day