During the coldest time of year, when the trees are bare and the nights are long and signs of life are hard to find, a shimmer of hope breaks through with the emergence of a brand new year. I used to wonder why people celebrate so much on January 1st. But the more I consider the implications of a new year, the more I see how wonderful it is that unlike all the other creatures on earth who merely survive through every season year after year, mankind has the opportunity to look back, take stock and reflect on how we did and resolve to do better going forward.
In the 16th century people referred to pages in a book as “leaves”. When they turned over a new leaf it meant they were turning to a blank page in a workbook to start a new lesson. This phrase became another way to say you’re turning over a page of your life and starting a new one.
Our God graciously gives us second chances to start over with a clean slate, not just at the beginning of the year but whenever we confess our shortcomings to him. Then he enlists the Agent of Change, the Holy Spirit, to help us produce what we can’t on our own: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. With God, our resolutions can be kept past February!
When Paul took a look back on his life in Philippians 3:8, he said,
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
As we set our goals for the New Year, let’s put at the top of the list the things we will do to gain more of Christ, to include him more and more in our hearts and minds and lives.
Happy New Year!