All Things New
I love waking up to freshly fallen snow. The view out the window is clean, bright and beautiful. There is a fresh sense of newness where there was once only brown and dead looking vegetation. However, I have discovered that this scene does not stay fresh and clean for long. It may start with the tracks of a small animal, or a fallen twig from a nearby tree. Soon there will be footprints, car tracks and small mountains formed from freshly plowed snow everywhere you look. The newness does not last for long. Then when the sun comes out, the dead and brown begin to surface again, only this time much messier.
The same thing can happen with a new day, a new year, or a new decade. It was not long ago that we “turned the page” on a brand new day. There is always a lot of optimism and hope that surrounds the changing of the year, even though it truly is just one day on a calendar. All of the resolutions for fitness, dieting, spending more time with family and friends and generally being a better person are soon just a faint memory. This can be discouraging and leave one feeling hopeless, if we dwell too long on it.
One of the reasons for this is that too many times we approach the New Year as something completely new, a fresh beginning devoid of any history. In fact we are not writing a new story, but rather the next chapter in the ongoing story of our lives. All that lies before us will be impacted by all that is in the past. The past does not have to define us, but it certainly shapes us.
Many self-help experts will try to encourage us by saying “what is in the past is done, there is nothing that can be done to change it. Concentrate on today and the future ahead of you.” While this may sound like good advice, and provide a moment of hope it is an empty pursuit. We have also that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. It is as if we are to cover our lives with a fresh blanket of snow while forgetting that there is a lot of stuff buried under the surface.
So what are we to do? Is there really a way to get a fresh start? Is there a way to be free from the mistakes of the past and move forward to a better future? Of course there is. It is found in to key verses in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul talks a lot about the new life that comes from accepting Christ and following Him. In his 2nd Letter to the church in Corinth he makes this simple but profound statement; “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! “ 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT2). This is more than covering over the ugliness with a fresh blanket of snow, this is new all the way through. The Apostle John shares with us further insight on how we can claim this amazing gift that God offers us, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 (NLT2) So what is better than starting a new year? How about starting a new life?