I like the notion of “fresh starts” and “second chances.” How about you? Did your fall semester in college or graduate school end on a low note? The spring semester that starts in a few days is a fresh start for you.
Was last year a tough one at work? Did you lose a job? Have to move your family from a place everybody really liked to a new location they hate? One way of coping is to think of what you can gain rather than what you’ve lost. Focus on learning from the experience to help you move forward. Make some new friends.
Is an important relationship in trouble? Did someone you love die? Are you worried about the bad-attitude friends your son or daughter has made? Maybe you need to look at these things through fresh eyes and with hope.
A sense of brokenness is often the mandatory first step to renewal and healing. So it isn’t a bad thing to lament our losses. But it is a bad thing to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder to the past instead of lifting your eyes to the future. It can be fatal to the human spirit.
As you might expect in light of all this, I see the turning of the calendar to a new year as a big deal. Isn’t the idea of a clean slate appealing to you too? Doesn’t the chance to start over sound great? But I’m not necessarily suggesting that you make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I would advise against it.
Long lists are intimidating and frustrating. Most resolutions are too vague – reduce stress, save more money, be more helpful at home. And the notion of pledging to do something for 365 days is tough on people who are honest about just how often failure visits them. Perhaps there is a better way.
Remember the advice Jesus gave about just taking care of today and not biting off tomorrow’s troubles? “Each day has challenges enough of its own!” he said. Think about it, and you will realize that your own experience confirms it.
In the context of that statement, Jesus gave this counsel: “Strive above all else for the reign of God in your life, and the things that have been worrying you will resolve!” God’s reign requires conscious surrender. Not of the entire year but of today’s trouble, this stress, or a particular loss. Not of the other person but of my attitude toward her. Not of yesterday’s failure so much as today’s opportunity.
New Year 2017 is God’s mercy to you. With his presence a reality and in one-day-at-a-time surrender to him, creative new things will come out of the waste-and-void chaos of the past. And life will be fresh every morning.
By Rubel Shelly