Disclaimer: I realize that what I’m about to say is region-specific. It’s not necessarily as applicable for other parts of this country let alone other parts of the world. However, it is in this part of the world – the great-yet-frozen state of Minnesota – that I live, and so these are my observations.
The new year is upon us. 2014 is over, and 2015 lays spread out before us like an open book, ready and waiting for us to make our mark upon its blank and expectant pages.
May people use the new year as an opportunity to start anew – to his the “refresh” button on some aspect of their lives or another. We want to be a better version of ourselves, and what better time to seek out and embrace that new “self” than the new year? It’s no coincidence that so many ad campaigns capitalize on some variation of the phrase “A new year, a new you!” It speaks to that deep longing we have in our hearts to make a change – to learn something … do something … be something fresh and new and different.
Who am I going to be?
What am I going to do differently?
How am I going to enact real change in my life?
Often, these questions spur new year’s resolutions.
“This year, I’m going to get healthy.”
“This year, I’m going to quit smoking.”
“This year, I’m going to learn to be financially responsible.”
“This year, I’m going to be more organized.”
“This year, I’m going to be more patient/compassionate/generous/kind.”
I find it both interesting and ironic that this laser-focus on a new version of life comes in the midst of a season that seems so devoid of life.
The ground is frozen.
The trees are leafless.
The days are short and the nights oh, so long.
Any plants left over from last season lie dormant in the ground at best, and at worst, are shriveled and brown and dead.
And the only life we witness outside – human or otherwise – moves quickly from one warm space to another in an attempt to not freeze.
In the midst of this season in which the world seems on hold at best, we focus on ways to renew our lives.
Immense in mercy and with an incredible love, God embraced us. God took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. God did all this on God’s own, with no help from us! ~ Ephesians 3:4-5 (The Message)
From death, life.
And more than just a lackluster existence. As Jesus says to the disciples in John’s gospel, “I came so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (Jn 10:10).
Friends, this is the essence of the Good News that we share – that in the midst of the coldness and darkness and deadness of sin, Christ came to bring life and forgiveness and grace.
So as you think about what your new year’s resolutions and how to start afresh in the year ahead, remember that God has made you alive in Christ, giving you a love that never ends, a forgiveness that never faces, and a peace that cannot be surpassed. Let this reassurance be your warmth in the cold … your light in the darkness … your inspiration and encouragement in days, weeks, and year ahead.