I like fresh starts. New semesters, new classes, new projects, new teams, new years – they all hold promise. They all have hope. I like beginning again.
Maybe this time I can get it right… or righter at least. Maybe I can learn from past mistakes. Maybe I will be a little more certain about what I want. Maybe I can get better, do more, find more happiness or success. Maybe. I live, we all live so aware of the places we do it wrong or the places where it hasn’t worked out. We want to think we could do it better or smarter if we could only… So maybe this year…
Sometimes, “maybe” feels pretty good. Sometimes I get a fresh infusion of hope and purpose. And sometimes it really works.
We get a “do over” on January 1st. Whether you do New Year’s Resolutions (who wants to fail again?) or not, there is something that changes with the calendar.
Now my problems don’t go away – my illness or job status or relational difficulties or even my weight. My failures that led me into my predicaments don’t go away with the dropping of the ball in Times Square. But, I get to start afresh in my attempts to deal with them.
How do we start fresh? How do we seize this external opportunity when we know our internal reality? How do we begin anew with the same old me? Let me give you three simple thoughts.
1. “Behold, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come.” (II Corinthians 5:17) Somehow that verse feels difficult to grasp every day (even though it is true everyday). But once or twice a year, I get it. God has forgiven me. He really has wiped the slate clean on my sin. I am not marked by my failures (even though there are still after-effects). They don’t define me. Even though my circumstances haven’t changed, I am a new man. The Spirit has come to live in me. His power is at my disposal, and I get a chance to lean into Him again, as one of His own.
2. My world is really the same as it was last year. My circumstances carry over. My track record is the same. I still face the consequences of my failures last year. I still have the same strengths and weaknesses to face them. I live in the same world with the same name – and yet I am new. I have resources that I haven’t figured out how to use. Someone far bigger than me lives inside of me. I have access to more power than I have used. There is hope that I can be different and there is hope that He is with me. Dare I hope for change?
3. Will I ask for courage and wisdom? Courage is a needed, steady dose to swallow in order to believe that He really can change me and my world. Courage is what I will need to hope – in Him and in the “new” me that He has made. And wisdom is what I will need to do life differently. Does that mean spending more time with God? Working out? Asking for help? Somehow I have to take steps, often different ones, and I need wisdom and courage to take action.
Happy New Year! Or should I say “Hopeful New Year”? He is alive. You are new. And you get a “do over” as a new person. Here’s wishing you a fresh start with a fresh Spirit, and the courage to begin again!
.Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.