One particular New Year’s Day, I turned over a new leaf in a literal (and literary) sense. My favorite daily reading is Oswald’s Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, a collection of short devotionals for each day of the year. By year’s end, I had been flipping straight to the back of the book for the readings I needed. So it was that on January first I was startled to realize it was time to turn the book over and start at the front. I found myself looking forward to retracing my steps through the volume and its wisdom. Perhaps I would discover some things I missed last time.
The beginning of a new year always manages to catch me off guard one way or another—like when I have to remember to date my checks correctly. What surprises me most, though, is how much I need it. That last week of December usually has me in a bit of post-holiday depression. I’m sad the celebrations are over, and overwhelmed at having to put away all our Christmas cheer.
Then New Year’s Day faithfully appears, and with it the prospect of new beginnings, new possibilities. It’s such a hopeful little holiday:
“Perhaps this will be the year that I finally (fill in the blank with whatever I failed to accomplish last year).”
This particular winter, the incompletions and disappointments of the past were weighing especially heavy on me. At some point I had gotten worn out and stale, emptied of energy and inspiration. I was convinced I had become a “slacker mom,” simply going through the motions as mother and homemaker. As I looked ahead I pictured myself drearily shuffling through life, struggling even to put one foot in front of the other.
Although I didn’t realize it yet, I was in desperate need of a do-over.
Thankfully, New Year’s Day is nothing if not a holiday for fresh starts. January 1 found me and my husband enjoying a leisurely morning in our bedroom, all the kids occupied elsewhere. We began talking about hopes and plans for the coming year. We recommitted to a few misplaced priorities and set some new goals. Before we knew it, we had spent half the day in our pajamas sitting cross-legged on the bed, envisioning our future. This simple act of “waking up” to the New Year was all it took to shake off the lethargic stupor I’d been in for so many months—even if we didn’t get dressed right away. I was encouraged, expectant and eager to get started. I was reinvigorated and ready for action.
What a splendid job God did, establishing the cycles of time. He must have known that we would need life measured out in a way that would make us routinely pause—and start over. He gave us mornings, seasons and years, in addition to the Sabbath. Without them, we might never have known when to come up for air. Perhaps we’d try to just go on and on until we dropped, exhausted and hopeless. Thankfully though, time is ordered in a way that offers us refreshment at consistent intervals.
Our God, the author of renewal, foresaw how much we would need “do-overs.” He knew we would mess up and miss out on some things. However, thanks to his provision and mercy, we are not doomed to live in perpetual instant replay.
Because not only did God give us seasons, he gave us a Savior. Through Christ, we experience the ultimate opportunity to start fresh. We receive not only a “do-over,” but a “do-better.”
“Bring us back to you! Give us a fresh start.” Lamentations 5:21, CEV “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” II Corinthians 5:17, NLT