Well, it is January, the start of 2018. A new and fresh year. We are all making resolutions and changes in our lives. We are past the holiday season, so we can start new plans for exercising and eating right. We have put things off for at least the last few months, but now all of our ambitions can come to a culmination. What is it about a fresh start that is so beautiful and intriguing? And why is it that we wait to change anything in our life until a new year? Why do we expect that changing things only once a year will change the entire outlook of our lives?
Let’s first start by talking about what the attraction to a fresh start is. We all know we are sinners and make mistakes, and the thought of being able to wipe the slate clean in a new year sounds very appealing! The problem is that we cannot really wipe the slate clean without Jesus in our life. We can try convincing ourselves that our past issues don’t matter anymore and put them in the back of our head, but they will still be in our minds until we are truly forgiven. Isaiah 1:16-18 says, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’” These verses remind us that when we put aside the old man and decide to follow Jesus, all the things that made us dirty and tainted are forgiven. That is what I think a fresh start really looks like!
I have introduced a couple of songs from the Hillsong CD called “Wonder”. Both of these songs talk about new beginnings that only God can provide and the wonder that comes when we receive second life through salvation in Jesus Christ. Some of my favorite lyrics in the song “Wonder” say, “Have you ever seen the wonder in the glimmer of first sight. As the eyes begin to open and the blindness meets the light…Have you ever seen the wonder in the air of second life. Having come out of the waters with the old one left behind…” These lyrics talk about this fresh start we all desire. They talk about the first time our eyes are truly opened through salvation when Jesus gives us a new life. The wonder and beauty of our Savior is so unfathomable!
I think that most of us use January 1st as a way to procrastinate changing anything serious in our lives. I know I find myself doing this all year round. I know that I need to eat better or exercise more, but instead of just deciding to make a change in my life, I say that I will wait until the new year to do anything different. Somehow we think that the new year is this magical time when we will finally be able to do all the things we have put on the back burner for the entire previous year. Unfortunately, this does not usually work very well. We may stick to a diet or exercise routine for the first month or so, but after the initial excitement wears off, we give up and the whole cycle starts over again. The area where this gets most dangerous is in our walk with Jesus. We tell ourselves we will go to church every week, pray constantly, and read our Bible consistently when we have more time in the new year. When this happens, the One who gives us the very breath in our lungs, blood in our veins, and forgiveness of sins, gets placed on the back burner of our lives. Although this is an easy pattern to fall into, we must strive against it in our own lives. Each day is a new opportunity to praise and worship the Creator of the world with everything we have to offer Him.
The final misconception we commonly have about the start of a new year is that making these few changes in our routine will change everything else in the rest of our lives. Simply changing our exercise or eating habits is not going to make all of the issues in our lives disappear. The only decision we can make in our lives that will change every other aspect of our lives is a total surrender of our hearts to Jesus Christ. Most of us know and understand this, but sometimes we get so caught up in the material things that we forgot the spiritual is of utmost importance.
I want to leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from the song “So Will I” which talk about Christ’s surrender on the cross and what our response to that should be. “God of salvation, You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride. On a hill You created, the light of the world abandoned in darkness to die. And as You speak a hundred billion failures disappear, where You lost Your life so I could find it here. If You left the grave behind You, so will I. I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done, every part designed in a work of art called love. If You gladly chose surrender so will I.” In this season of new beginnings, let’s not forget the One who gives us a new start each and every day of our lives. Let’s remember that the only reason we are here is because of the Almighty Creator of the universe who chose to sacrifice His life for ours!