January 2, 2014

"All things new" - A New Year's Meditation

I know I’m publishing this a little bit late … but it’s still early enough in January, I think, for me to say that I love New Year’s! Maybe not quite as much as Christmas; but the first of January is one of my favorite holidays of the year (and having come from north Mississippi, it’s not because of all the bowl games, I assure you!). Nor is it the egg nog, or the songs, or even the day’s vacation. No, I love New Year’s Day because of what it symbolizes – a fresh start; a new beginning; an opportunity to take up new habits, and to start writing in a new journal, and often to begin a new preaching series, and to open a new check register, and so on.

Did you pick up on a theme there? I really like starting over! I like having a fresh start. Now some of that, I realize, is the perfectionist in me (like all the times I hit the re-set button on my Nintendo as a kid, when Super Mario didn’t make it through the first level of the video game as cleanly as I wanted him to). But I think there is something more than that going on as well; something more that makes me – and many of you, perhaps – relish the opportunity that the new year affords to start with a clean slate.

I believe this desire to start fresh is perhaps built into us by God’s creative design. Maybe it is a part of the “eternity” which God has set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3.11). Maybe we look forward to fresh starts and resets because God has designed us for that great day when Jesus will come and hit the reset button of the entire world; that day when He will make “all things new” (Revelation 21.5).

There is a great and final New Year’s Day awaiting us, is there not? I don’t know if it will fall in January or June, of course. But what I do know is that the fresh start we will get on that day will finally satisfy all the clean slate desires we have ever felt … and then some. That day will make even the best New Year’s days and resolutions seem like a child playing dress-up, but having no idea what it will really be like to finally be all grown up!

Do you want to walk closer with God in this new year? On that day, there will be nothing to hinder you! “He will dwell among” us (Revelation 21.3). Are you glad to have left behind the difficulties of the year gone by? In that day, fully and finally, Jesus “will wipe away every tear” and “there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Revelation 21.4). Do you look forward to simply living healthier in the new year? It doesn’t get any healthier than a new body, and the opportunity to eat from the tree of life in the heavenly city (Revelation 22.1-2)!

And among the best parts of it all is that we won’t have to do it all again in another 365 days! That’s the rub with the current New Year’s excitement isn’t it? The reason I always look forward to the first of January is because of the fresh starts. But the reason I look forward to the fresh starts is because the previous year never turns out the way I had hoped. I always fall short. I do not make all the progress in holiness that I ought. And I still also live in a world that, even when I am doing right, is under a curse. Thus the appeal of the fresh start, the clean slate, and the reset that is January 1! But in that day, I will never need another reset button again! In that day I will never have to make another resolution. Because in that day Christ will reign forever, and He will make “all things new” (myself included!) – finally, and completely, and never to spoil again.

And that’s what I’m really looking for, each New Year’s Day. I’m longing for eternity! And, while my clean new year’s slate cannot ultimately slake that thirst … it can remind me that eternity is what I am actually thirsting for! New Year’s Day, in other words, was not meant to ultimately satisfy me – but only to whet my appetite for something much, much greater! And that gives me an even better reason to look forward to this annual tradition of starting anew!

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