“Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5
The start of the New Year is always something to look forward to. It is a time for us to remember what happened in our past year – both good and bad, make goals, and decide on things we would like to see happen. It is a time for us to remember what we really want out of life, and to start fresh regardless of what last year might have brought us. It is a time for us to look ahead instead of looking back.
One section of Scripture that comes to mind when I think of New Year’s is Hebrews 11:13-16 which says, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
The 11th chapter of Hebrews is often favourably called “the Hall of Faith”. It is the record of numerous men and women in Biblical times who left what they had known and did the work of God despite the trials and temptations they were faced with. Many were imprisoned, beaten, or even died. These men and women did not see God the way we see Him today, they were all people who did what they did because they had hope that one day we would be here, listen to their stories, and be able to gain understanding and insight from them. No doubt, there were times when perseverance seemed tough – times when they just wanted to give up. They could have turned around, and fell back on what they had known, what was familiar to them, but they kept going because they had hope and faith in Jesus Christ.
When I was in grade 10 I decided on an interesting experiment. I decided that I would wear a different shirt every day of the school week for the entire school year. At the very end of the year I had not repeated a shirt and that Christmas almost every gift I received reflected the fact that people have remembered that.
As I reflected back on my 15 year old enthusiasm for such a project, it helped me to see the New Year in a new perspective. I realized that with my shirts, I was donning on a new character every day. Some days my shirts reflect a more professional side of me, some days my shirts reflect a more wacky side of me, some days my shirts reflect a vibrant side of me, and as some of my classmates discovered– some days my shirts reflected the Granny side of me.
This is sort of like how our Spiritual walk with Jesus Christ works – some days we get so caught up in being Theological, and in trying to find the right words to express how we feel about our faith, that we pay little or no attention to how our relationship with God is doing. Sometimes we are so focused on being bright and positive in our daily living, that we forget that there are many others around us who are feeling pain. We shrug pain off because we have a fear of it, we think that as believers we shouldn’t be feeling that way, and so we do what we can to cover up whatever hurt is plaguing our lives at that moment. Then there are days when we just kind of slink by – feeling much older, and wiser, than we actually are… and this does us no good.
Another lesson I have learned from my wardrobe is the importance of starting each day fresh. Donning a new shirt each day is sort of like saying, “Alright God, I’m willing to take a risk today. I’m willing to try something that I’ve never tried before. I’m willing to be someone that I haven’t been in a long time.” And when we open our hearts and our minds to God, being totally receptive to Him – that’s when amazing things start to take place in our life.
An old Japanese proverb goes like this, “Strike when the opportunity presents itself.” How many times has God held blessings, and miracles out to us, and we have just passed them by thinking that we weren’t ready to take initiative, or thinking that we weren’t ready to be on top of commitment. How many times have we seen accountability as just another one of those things in life, and taking those strong mentors in our lives for granted?
God has so much for us, and is just waiting for us to receive from Him and everything that He has in mind. If you have never made Jesus your Saviour, what better time than today when the year is still so fresh. If you have, what better time to reflect on that and to recommit your life to Him again. No matter what happens this year – we know God is in control, and He’ll lead us into victory, it’s just a matter of us saying, “Yes” to Him.
As you reflect upon this New Year, I encourage you to think about this past year with the encouragement of moving forward in your life.
Some things to ponder: What blessings has God gifted me with this year?
What blessings do I feel like God has withheld from me this year and why might that be?
What blessings do I want to see God bring into my life this year?
Where is my life headed this year and how can God become more of a part of it?
Is there something life-giving that I can add more of into my life this year? (Conversely: Is there something life-depleting that I can spend less time with or abolish altogether?)
New Year’s Resolutions are great, but so often we are gung-ho about them for the first week or two and by week three we have quietly submitted to our failures knowing that we simply don’t want to continue. It’s too much work. Too much money. It’s not worth it.
There are all sorts of ways that have been suggested for how one can keep those resolutions, but in the end of the day, I think the best advice is to just simplify it. Spend time reflecting, but don’t berate yourself. Spend time in prayer asking God what He wants you to do and asking Him for the strength to accomplish it.
Want to spend more time with Christ this New Year? Bible Gateway has some cool material to check out: http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2013/12/devotions-for-the-new-year-are-here/
Want to read through the entire Bible this year or maybe just the New Testament? Check out: http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/
Get these materials delivered right into your email inbox. This way when you’re procrastinating from work, school, or whatever, you can read it right there! There will be no excuses :).
I wish you a very Happy New Year filled with many blessings and pleasant surprises. May Christ’s love exude through you this year so that you can reach out and disciple many others as you seek to walk in His footsteps.