While I love the Christmas season, I’ve come to realize that I love the days in between Christmas and New Year’s Day even more. There’s peace in having come through the previous season (and year) intact. There’s an anticipation–a hopeful expectation–of what’s ahead, and the possibility that it could be good…great…even better. It’s the captivating allure of newness.
We were made for renewal. Our souls and our spirits are inevitably drawn to it. We can’t help but want it and seek it out. And while we live in an increasingly secular, materialistic society, even what is marketed and advertised to us taps into that deep desire. New Year’s resolutions. Weight loss promotions. White sales (who doesn’t want brand new, clean sheets and towels?). Everybody wants a fresh start, and to start over again right.
And we can begin again. It’s what Jesus came for and it’s what he invites us into. I realize he wasn’t actually born on December 25th, one week away from the turn of the next calendar year. But I think there’s prophetic truth hidden in this modern reality. It’s incredibly fitting that once we celebrate the coming of Jesus, we then begin to fix our eyes on the new life he came to bring. These days before January 1st are tailor-made for just that.
And so now we can take many of the familiar messages, promotions, and advertisements we see this time of year, and look at them in a whole, new way. With new eyes and a kingdom-minded perspective. We can harness our desire for the new and let it lead us not into the ‘temporary new’ but into the ‘ongoing new.’
So let’s not make another resolution this year with a half-hearted hope. Let’s look at the coming of 2018 as our invitation, our opportunity, to become that new creation we were meant to be!
- Look the Part: Is your body and outward appearance a reflection of God’s good work in you? This isn’t just about exercising or weight loss or dressing better. But are you treating yourself in a way that is pleasing to God? You are his beloved, his precious one, and every day you have the opportunity to choose to live and look like you are just that. One choice at a time. One day at a time. You are worth every effort.
- Organize/Simplify: If you look around the stores, everyone is pushing organization in January. Start the year off with your stuff in order and in its place. There’s wisdom in that! Organizing and simplifying your physical surroundings can actually bring a sense of peace, better efficiency, and more productivity. But what about your life and your schedule? Is it too cluttered to give God access to renewing your inner self? Now is the time, inside and out, to make room!
- Get Clean: As I said, just about everybody loves a good white sale…or at least having those fresh, new sheets and towels. It makes you feel good. But are you clean on the inside? Are you hiding dirty, stained secrets in the closet of your heart? Confess them to Jesus–he is faithful to forgive and make you clean and new! Open all those closet doors and let the light and love of Jesus transform them into treasure boxes! Are you holding onto any unforgiveness right now? Release it to him and to those you need to forgive. Let him breathe new life into seemingly hopeless relationships.
- Set Spiritual Goals: I’m all for resolutions, if you take them seriously. Have you ever thought of making spiritual ones? What if you resolved to grow spiritually in areas where you want to flourish and thrive? What if you resolved to allow yourself to be stretched and challenged in new ways this year? Step out in Faith! Write this stuff down! Expect great things!
- Break One Bad Habit, Replace It With a Good One: This doesn’t have to be a major one, but even ‘minor bad habits’ are so last year! What held you back last year that needs to go? What gets in the way of your personal or spiritual growth? Gossip? Negative self-talk? Too much TV? Ask yourself (and the Lord) a few questions along these lines. What good thing can take its place? Even small positive changes bring big returns.
- Get a Partner/Be a Partner: We aren’t meant to go it all alone. Change is hard–being a new creation is hard! We need support, encouragement, and accountability if we want to get somewhere we haven’t been before. Sometimes your best friend or spouse isn’t the best person to walk alongside you in this way. It’s OK to seek out someone who’s been where you are and is in a new place themselves. Someone who can offer you a fresh perspective and help you consider new possibilities. Look for a mentor. Hire a coach. It’s really no different than having a personal trainer at the gym. What’s more, it will also help you to grow if you then use what you learn to encourage someone else in their journey!
These are just six ways, six things you can do that just might make this coming year a new year to remember for all the right reasons.
I’ve done some of them at different points over the years, but this year, I’m going to challenge myself to do all of them. Why?
Because if I’m not growing I’m dying.
If I’m not new, then I’m old.
(And I don’t wanna be old)
Because I’m a romantic. I want life to be new and exciting and wonderful. And it can’t be any of those things if it’s the same ol’, same ol’ all over again.
Because Jesus promises he is “making ALL things new,” and I want to be part of his all, and believe he means what he says.
I don’t want to be a cynic:
and disenfranchised with life.
I want to grab life and make it what it can be; to wrestle with and wrangle up the promises of God until I see them happen.
But most of all…
when all is said and done, I want to hear my Father say to me,
“Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come and share in your Master’s happiness.
Indeed, you ARE a new creation!”
And so I eagerly await the dropping of the ball, the toasts, and the fireworks–the end of 2017. Because I cannot wait to begin again; for that yearly occasion and opportunity to be a whole new me.
Join me in this, would you?
Except you be you.
Be a whole new you.