I’m not the kind of person that likes to stay up till midnight to enter into the new year. I’ve never been a night person; I am a morning person. So normally on New Year’s Eve I go to bed at the same time as other nights. I know what you thinking… where is the fun in that? But that’s what I do. I pray and then go to bed. But then when I wake up on New Year’s morning, I will normally have 20-plus messages from family and friends who have stayed up and want to wish me a new year. I will read through the messages and wish others a new year too.
What is it about the idea of new? Perhaps we like the idea of second chances.
This year I will save my money. This year I will exercise. This year I am going to invest in my relationships.
We like the idea of moving on. Forgetting what is behind us and moving to what is ahead.
On the other side, we are a culture obsessed with new.
New hairdo. New shoes. New gadgets.
It makes us excited when we do something new or we get something new because it gives us a temporary high.
And while new in itself isn’t bad … I wonder if we took a moment to look at new from a spiritual sense maybe it would change the kind of new goals we will make in this new year.
What are the new things God wants me to experience?
What are the new things he has in store for me?
What are the new things he desires for me to pursue?
Because unlike my New Year's goals or my obsession with something new which will fade over time when I get bored what God wants me to experience will last and be a permanent fix.
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about a new heart and mind. The Bible says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Cor 5: 17). It also says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2). This is the idea that we no longer walk in the flesh but by the spirit. Which means allowing God to take full control and lead us in the right direction. So that we don’t have to live with regret but rather will experience peace, life, and love in our lives. What does that look like in our day-to-day life? Instead of spending my money, I am going to save it. Instead of holding on to bitterness, I am going to forgive. Instead of dumping alcohol, drugs, or smoke into my body, I am going to honour it for God. That's what a new heart and mind look like.
I’m talking about new miracles. Miracles we didn’t plan on and miracles we are waiting for. There are times in our life when we get to experience something we didn’t plan for. For example, the time I went to Israel was not on my bucket list. And then there are times when we are waiting on a miracle to happen. For God to heal your loved one, to save you from your debt, to turn the heart of someone who is being toxic. For God to make a way, turn a situation around, and cause a shift. What new miracles are you trusting in God for? "Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles "(1 Chronicles 16:12).
I am talking about new faith. Walking away from doubt and letting faith fill your heart again. Just because life didn’t go the way you planned it does not mean your life is over. God has a purpose and plan for your life. There will be times when it does not make sense and we will wonder why it happened the way it did but if you dip into a new level of faith in God you will remember that a good God cares and a good God knows. Will you trust him? "For we live by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5: 7).
I am talking about new obedience. Fully giving over everything in your life to God. Perhaps you believe in God but you haven’t fully let go of the thing that is holding you back. You still unconsciously put down people. Maybe you don’t easily forgive. Perhaps dabbling in impurity habits. It’s time to put this thing or habit to rest. Whatever it is God is calling us to a new level of trust and loyalty to him. “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it" (Genesis 4: 7).
I am talking about new courage. No longer letting fear control you. What if this happens? What if this does not happen? We can’t live our lives in fear when God is calling us to move forward. If God says to walk on the water, like Peter then do it. If God calls you to defeat the giant Goliath the way David did then move forward. If God calls you to leave your country and family the way he did with Abraham then go for it. Whatever season you are in right now and God is calling you to do something, then move with courage. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1: 8).
So… when we think about our goals this way… it makes me excited.
Because I know that the new things God has in store for me are good. Permanent things. Hopeful things. Peaceful things. Things are purpose.
And that’s exactly what God wants for us.
He doesn’t want us to start something and then over time stop.
He doesn’t want us to get bored and restless.
He does not want us to get disappointed and discouraged.
Rather he wants us to experience “new” spiritually. Because this “new” in our life is true, works, and leads us down a permanent path. And that is exactly what we all need in this unstable, uncertain and volatile world. Something stable to navigate us through the ups and downs of life.
Wishing you and your family and friends a Happy New year!