Remember the PBS kids show Arthur? I have this distinct memory of one episode where he has a really bad day, and so he literally goes back to bed to start again. When I was on a mission trip to the Czech Republic the summer after high school, I did that one day when it felt like everything was going wrong. After lunch I went back up to my bed, got cozy under the covers, and pretended I was starting fresh.
Sometimes we just really need a restart. I have been praying for a new way, in a lot of areas of my life. It was a rough past few months and I know that it cannot continue the same way. There was, and is, always so much beauty in the mess, but there are some things that really need to be made new. I was ready for a new beginning this January.
I love that the Lord gives us new years and new days so that we can give ourselves permission to start again. It is such a picture of our humanness, our small ways of thinking. I mean, think about it, starting a new year is really just turning the calendar from one day to the next, the same way we always do. But He knows us full well; He knows that we need new beginnings. He didn’t have to do that. Even though New Years is a façade of newness; He gives us permission to start again. He invites us into resurrection. What a kind God He is.
What an amazing invitation. He offers us opportunities for newness all the time – literally anytime. Your mercies are new every morning. I don’t want to limit myself to new chances only once a year. I want to soak up His abundance of grace and mercy and love and live in the newness. I want to embrace the invitation.
So when I am setting goals and new vision, maybe I am not really praying for this year, necessarily. Even if I frame it that way, maybe I am praying for hope and patience and perseverance in each moment of my life; that each day, each second, I would take hold of His promises and mercies. I would accept the invitation to start new. To try again. He gives out new tries so freely.
We think new years or distance or a whole lot of other fake solutions will fix the problems in our lives. We wake on January 1 and have this weird hope that things will magically be better. But we all know that is not ever how it works.
A new year is not what makes things new. He is.
Behold, I am making all things new! If we want newness all we have to do is turn to Him, anytime.
When Jesus was here on earth He did not really care what day it was or what time of day it was or how holy someone was or what anyone thought of Him or anything else. He never delayed in giving someone newness. He wasn’t stingy with it either. He did not have to wait and count down to midnight in order to give someone a new start.
So why should we be delayed or stingy in newness either? We can reach out and grab it, whenever we need it.
I think the same way we use funerals as a socially acceptable place to express deep, hard emotions is maybe similar to how we use New Years. We view it as a socially acceptable time to set goals or end bad habits or just choose newness in general. We don’t need that though. We always get that opportunity.
You don’t need January 1 in order to be more kind or generous or adventurous. You don’t need it to stop smoking or start exercising or whatever it is for you. In fact, isn’t it fascinatingly sad that we “fail” or “give up” and we think we have to wait until the next January 1 to try again? Wow, we waste so much time. What if we chose the Lord’s invitation to newness – any day, any time, all the time? What a gift! Lord, help us say yes to that invitation all day everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love New Years. It is actually my favorite holiday. And I love setting goals and reevaluating and seeing the ways I can improve or be better or grow. I think it is awesome that we give ourselves permission once a year to start new things or quit old things – I’m just saying that maybe we should offer ourselves and each other that permission more often. Why do we limit ourselves? We serve an abundant, outrageously generous God; let’s be more like Him.
In what ways are you already feeling like you’ve failed this year? We’re just a few days in – if we call ourselves failures now we’ll be sitting in that for a long time. What newness do you need, today? And can you give yourself permission to find that? Will you let me give you permission to do that? (I love handing out permission.)
Goal setting and reevaluating how we are living our lives are incredibly important practices. I’m so here for it. (I’ll share some thoughts on this in coming weeks.) But in all of it, we have to offer ourselves grace and know that even as kind as the Lord is to give us clear intentional days meant for newness, He also offers that to us abundantly, lavishly, all the time, with no restraint. Take Him up on the invitation.