A new year. A new start. A new set of goals and dreams surface. We begin to think of our future as a restoration to the old. We drop yesterday as if it was an object to hold, and press on with a fresh outlook on life. This is the type of conversation I hear at the beginning of every year, normally followed with a resolution- a declaration of something to improve or work on, build up and perfect. And we are delighted for it, can’t wait to start the journey, and fill with anxiety for the potential outcome.
Our culture has created an idealistic joy in constantly “starting over.” Every year, we say these things: “this is going to be the best one yet,” “there are big plans for this year,” “this year will be a breath of fresh air,” “Can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.”
I am a contributor to this mindset, 100%.
But I have been convicted of it’s flaw.
Majority of the time, these statements come with a backstory. As we look ahead we have a natural tendency to desire the opposite of unfortunate and the continuation of pleasant, so depending what part of the spectrum our life has presently fallen into, it will dictate what our resolution represents.
God’s plan is always bigger than ours
Personally, I tend to fall in the category of desiring more. More than what I currently have in possession, what I fill with my time and how I measure my success. Essentially, more than where life has me sitting.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
My sin, is not giving my life completely over to God. By declaring my desire for more of life, I am simultaneously telling God that He is not enough; that His plan is not worth it, not sufficient, and not welcomed. But more than all of that, that His plan hasn’t begun and therefore non-existent.
You see, it’s so easy to forget all the work that He has done when there’s a shadow of pain, grief, or hardship. Even simple complacency, or boredom. These inevitable attributes of life are powerful, and our sinful and selfish minds want to linger on them, and seek blunt joy and happiness; when there is joy and praise in every single part of this life, when you believe in Him as your savior.
James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers…
His plan is also not about us. We are not the center, the focus; He is. When we call out his plan for our lives, we need to be careful that we are not making ourselves the hero. Instead, we should pray that He makes known how we can better glorify His name in the future, rather than glorifying ourselves.
Living for Him always produces fruit
Our faith is not contingent on the time of year; it does not waver, falter, or take a break- yet we act like it should, and we let it. We allow our hearts to quiver in subtle times. In other words, when we do not witness immediate, astounding fruit, we convince ourselves what we are doing or who we are is not enough to make a difference.
Hence, the “new start” mindset. At the new year, we hope it’s an avenue to start over and try again. Try something different, be a part of something new, stand out in a new way- though involvement and expression are not sin themselves, it can lead to a very corrupt intention.
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ
Everything and anything we do, can glorify His name- if our intention is to do so. When we begin to seek out outward adornment or praise, our heart quickly goes from Godly to worldly. In seconds, we fall away and forget the foundation to life.
So, as we ask for better things and circumstances, let it not be from a heart craving man’s approval. Let it come from utter aspiration to spread the gospel, and to recognize more opportunities to do so.
There’s no situation not worthy of His praise
Here’s the big one. The part of our humanity that fights back against God. The aspect of our vulnerability that runs from Him. The undeniable wonder we have as flesh, to understand evil.
When our lives crumble beneath our feet, we see the new year as a breath of fresh air. We cling to the idea that by the calendar moving forward, we can too. We can use it as a means to stand back up and walk. We can tangibly see it as an avenue to forgive and forget.
But my friends, He is the only way through tribulation. He is the reason behind it, through it, and for it. It is His strength that makes us take a step, His love that let’s us forgive, and His promises that moves us forward. In every situation we encounter, He is worth it. His truth and grace surpass all our worldly pain.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Are we not who we are because of what we’ve been through or experienced? My past is my testimony, and therefore worthy of His praise and not at all regret. I do not wish for a different life, for a different situation, for a different upbringing- my life, because of Christ, has shaped and molded me into who I am before you. Why would I resolute to forget and move forward? Why would you?
Do not be gripped by the pain you have felt or the shame you lived in; let it be the words in your story and praise in your prayer.
A new year brings excitement and anticipation; planning and expecting. Be joyful in that fact, but let your focus be on Him. As you make resolutions and desire what’s ahead, first reflect on God’s hand in your life, and give Him credit to it all. Take this avenue we use for ourselves, and give it back the One whom deserves the glory in all trials, joy, pain, and bliss.