“Behold, I am making all things new.” So says the voice from the throne to John as his vision of the new heavens and new earth unfolds.
I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. They are usually warmed-over versions of last year’s options. And (though there are exceptions) I don’t normally attach a lot of spiritual significance to pronouncements we often hear in church around this time that God will do this or that in the coming year, as if God’s purposes were tied to the calendar.
But maybe the beginning of a new year is an opportunity to take a fresh look at where things stand between us and the Lord. And to ask some important questions. Here’s one: what are the promises God has made to you that are as yet unfulfilled? But here’s another one: have you actually completed the last assignments God gave you to do? Far too often we leave a lot of ends untied and expect God to move us on the next thing anyway. Too often, we are looking for the next thing without having done the last thing. And then we’re surprised when the next thing never happens.
And the beginning of a year is a great time to re-evaluate our priorities. We may say we seek first the kingdom of God, but does the use of our time and resources reveal that we spent most of our energy last year on things that are far more about us than about him? Can we really expect God to unleash his power in our lives if we are using what he has already given us for our own purposes more than for his?
The end of year inventory is an event every business owner I have known dreads. It is tedious and uses valuable time, and it may reveal some things we didn’t want to know, but it has to be done if we are to know the true state of our business. And so to take spiritual inventory once a year is not a bad thing to do.
But I think the beginning of a year is also a terrific opportunity to move on from failure. Far too often, we allow ourselves to be dominated by the things that have gone wrong in the past. Pondering past failure to learn lessons for future success is one thing. Living in past failure is another. Learn the lessons and move on. You are not defined by where you’ve missed it in the past, but by the potential God sees in you as his son or daughter.
And it’s a great time to move on from hurt and pain. That can be tough, but even as we have to acknowledge where we have gone wrong and ask God and others for forgiveness and fresh beginnings, so we have to release those who have hurt us. If we don’t, we will be doomed to live in a prison of bitterness, victimhood and despair. But if we can allow our hurt to push us into God’s love, even the hurt will be worth it in the end.
January 1 is just a date on a calendar. But it can become an occasion to make some significant moves in your life. The power of God and of his Spirit can turn your impotent human resolutions into a divinely-enabled revolution that will bring real change and hope into your life in the year ahead.
Dates were very important to God as he dealt with the people of Israel. Certain things had to be done, and on certain dates. Those requirements have not applied to us since Jesus died on the cross and made every day a new Passover.
Yet he has allowed us to live in a culture governed by a calendar, so why not take advantage of that reality for his glory?
Take stock of the past, remember his unfulfilled but still valid promises, and ask for his power to move forward.
And make this year the best and most productive year in God you have ever had.