I’m goal-oriented, and New Year’s ought to be my time to shine.
I find the questions New Year’s prompts discouraging: What did I accomplish last year? What are my New Year’s resolutions? What do I plan to accomplish this year?
When I consider last year, I am not convinced I did my best. I always feel like I should’ve done more. The fact that resolutions are so popular reinforces this idea. Why resolve to do something if not to correct a past mistake? But resolutions are notorious for failing, and if those are our hope, how can we expect this year to be better than last?
And so, confronted with the idea that I have this gigantic blank slate in front of me that I must use to the fullest, I lift my hands and back away.
I didn’t live up to my expectations last year. I can’t live up to them this year. I didn’t, and I can’t.
This mindset is not what Jesus has in mind for my New Year’s celebrations, nor is it what He has in mind for yours.
He patiently holds out His hand to us, inviting us to hop off the New Year’s resolution throne and crown Him king of New Year’s. Then, He promptly takes the pressure off our shoulders because He is the answer to the New Year’s dilemma.
Jesus gives us freedom from the calendar because He is not bound by it.
Jesus is much more than a gigantic, light-up ball dropping in Times Square. We can’t count predictably down from ten and arrive at the moment when His plan will flash across our TV screens, blaring a new assignment at us as clearly as the numbers that make up the new date. We can’t mark off the squares representing January 1 to December 31 and circle the day He’ll give us a breakthrough and hand us what we might consider a big, clean slate.
We cannot force this with any amount of resolutions and effort, and in this, there is rest.
Jesus gives us constant new beginnings instead of just one per year.
To Him, one thousand years is like a day, and a day is like one thousand years.
New Year’s is nowhere near as much pressure when we can celebrate one thousand of them in a day. Instead of one try to get it right for an entire year, He presents us one thousand opportunities strung one after the other, less than two minutes apart.
And in this, there is hope.
Jesus redeems the past and holds the future.
Instead of looking back to see how our year stacks up, we can look back to the cross and see victory. The past becomes a record of how God has provided for us, and by studying it, we learn about who He is.
Instead of looking forward to try to subdue the future with resolutions and striving–a lost cause–we recognize that, as believers, our futures are already secure because of His work on the cross.
And in this, there is peace.
For everything we didn’t and can’t do, Jesus did and can.
Jesus is not only God of the ancient past and the distant future, but also God of the immediate present. He is God of each new year, and He invites us to celebrate with Him.
To do so, we can rewrite the New Year’s questions.
What did I accomplish this year? How has God shown Himself faithful this past year? What are my resolutions? What has God been teaching me lately? How is He inviting me to go deeper with Him in this area? What are my goals for this year? What do I need that only God can do? How can I draw closer to Him as I wait? Where might He be asking me to step out in faith to move forward?
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better about the new year already.
And by the way, to that second set of rewritten questions, God has been teaching me more about His love lately, and I felt He might be inviting me to go deeper with Him in studying that by inviting some other writers to join me. Stay tuned for the resulting series, which is going to take over the blog next month!
What’s God been teaching you lately?