I was texting worship leader extraordinaire Kasey Socks about top-secret worship leader things the other day, and she asked me a question that no one has asked me yet this year – “Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?” (She, btw, wants to read 40(!) books) My gut reaction was, “Psh, no. I’m not one of those people who makes resolutions only to give up on them in 2 weeks.”
But as I thought about it more, I realized that I kind of did make some resolutions. Just the other day, I consolidated my reading list into books I want to make sure I read this year. And I consciously decided that I want to run 600 miles this year. So…I did make resolutions and I didn’t even realize it.
Have you ever wondered why New Year’s Eve is such a big deal? There’s nothing magically different about January 1st, at after. Or why we get excited on the first day of summer? Or, if you ask any graduate, why the start of semesters hurts so much when you are sitting in an office and nothing changes for you?
At the heart of these realities is something I believe to be inherently true about people: we are looking for a fresh start. Being broken by sin, our hearts yearn for a new beginning, some turning point to go in a new direction.
The Bible is full of this kind of language. In the midst of their misery, the prophets yearned for God to do something new. And God told them that he was, and that he would:
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. (Isa. 43:19)
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah. (Jer. 31:31)
And notice the New Testament tells us that in Christ, we are new and can have a new life:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17)
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
As the calendar turned, we all hoped 2021 would be different. But then the capitol was stormed and Covid is still raging. And still, as the Bible beckons us to look ahead, we find God promising a day when things will be new:
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev. 21:5)
Why am I throwing these Bible verses at you? Because I want to encourage you to lean into that hope and expectation that you feel when the calendar turns to a new year. I believe that it is the cry of our hearts to not only hope for something new, but to act accordingly. So don’t just think, “Wow, 2021 has got to be better.” If we just hope for the world to improve, we will certainly be disappointed. Instead, decided to join God in doing a new thing in your life this year. Maybe you could…
- Decide to read the Bible every day
- Seek help for your mental health
- Reconcile a friendship gone wrong
- Be a consistent Bible study/churchgoer
- Become a praying person
- Confess sin struggles to someone you trust
- Exercise 3 times a week
- Have a more stable/regular sleep schedule
- Prioritize school less and people more
- Read some books for your spiritual health (I have ideas!)
Like all things, you can’t do this alone. You can’t simply decide, “Hmm I think I’ll become a praying person,” and then watch it magically happen. You need to (1) have a plan to make this happen and (2) be immersed in Christian community who knows about your goal.
A new year could in fact mean a new you, not in a self-helpy, things have got to get better kind of way. The newness we can hope for is the kind that God tells us is possible. He promises us wholeness and freedom. He tells us that we can be new people if we walk with the Spirit in community. Take some steps to walk in the newness of life that God is offering you!