January 1

th-6January 1 is floats, football and the Umpteenth Annual Tournament of Roses Parade playing all day long on your television like a circular tape, end to end. One finishes and the same one begins.

January 1 is something sweet in the morning and sliced ham and macaroni salad in the frig, along with any goodies leftover from Christmas (i.e. cookies, date nut bread, candies, fruits and nuts).

January 1 is a full deck on that tablet calendar on your desk, a clean calendar on the wall or the book marker back at Day One of the devotional book.

January 1 is clean and unsullied, like a hillside blanketed in new fallen snow. Not a footprint in sight. It’s a clean slate – a clean year.

January 1 is full of promise and promises. Resolutions they are called. Young people make lots of them. Older people know better, because January 1, in reality, is just another day. Bad habits, like pounds, don’t suddenly fall off on January 1. We are who we were on December 31. We carry the same guy into this pristine world ready to tromp through that blanket of snow and mess up that calendar.

In some ways we might be even more aware of our flaws on January 1, because we’d like a clean start – we’d like to make resolutions and keep them – but the guy in the mirror is the same guy who was there yesterday with a whole year on his back. He may have an empty pack now, but the same stuff is already starting to accumulate there. He can feel it. Feel the pull of the same.

Can we change? Of course we can. Will we? That’s a harder question.

I first thought of writing down the things I’d like to see change about myself in 2014, seal it in an envelope and open it on December 31, but then I thought, if it stays in a sealed envelope I probably won’t even remember what I wrote, and most likely will find myself in the same place a year from now. Better to write it where I can see it every day.

No lasting change will ever be made by sheer human effort. We cannot continue to exert large amounts of will on ourselves every single day. We will grow tired and give up. Real change has to happen by the Spirit. Will is exhaustible; the Spirit is not.

Look, either this Spirit of God in us thing is real or it is not. If it’s real then all sorts of things come to play that can alter the status quo we fear this time of year, things like new life, new mind, new heart, or heck, why not the whole thing … new creation. “Old things are passed away, behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And this has nothing to do with January 1; it has everything to do with January 1 and every day thereafter.

Do we believe it enough to act on it? It’s a moment by moment thing, and it doesn’t start with us; it starts with the Spirit. Reach in for the Spirit. There is power there to change. Will you join me in proving new life this year?

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2 Responses to January 1

  1. Ragamuffin Navigator says:

    I loved the line – “We are who we were on December 31” – and it’s it cool that God loves us to much to leave us like that. I’m taking two words into the new year: CHANGE – GRACE – by God’s Grace I will Change.

  2. bobbobs60 says:

    Instead of starting a new year, just concentrate on starting a new day in a new way…
    Awaken to a New Day
    “I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
    I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.”— Psalm 3:5-6

    Did you know that when you woke up this morning, you experienced a miracle? When you went to sleep last night, it was an act of great faith – or at least it would have been if you fully understood the risk involved. According to Jewish tradition, sleeping is “one-sixtieth of death.” The soul actually leaves the body and runs the risk of never returning.

    This is why the first Jewish prayer said in the morning is thanks to God for restoring our souls. We recognize that if we woke up this morning, it is because God actively intervened so that we could live another day. When God restores our souls each morning, it is tantamount to resurrecting the dead!

    In Psalm 3, King David saw this miracle as inspiration.

    This psalm was penned during one of the most excruciating episodes of David’s life: His very own son, Absalom, had launched a rebellion against him, and a successful one at that. If not for God’s divine intervention, David would have lost the throne. But David wrote, “I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” Although the odds were against him, David was not afraid.

    From where did he draw this strength in the face of adversity? The answer is found in the words of his psalm, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.” David understood that God was working miracles in his life every time he awoke from sleep. If God could perform a miracle on that level daily, David had no doubt that God could — and would — deliver him with more miracles throughout the day.

    There are times in our lives when we are in desperate need of miracles. The odds are against us and we are tempted to give up the fight. However, King David reminds us that despair is never an option and hope is always available – because if you are breathing this very moment it’s because you have already received the greatest miracle of all today, the miracle of your life.

    There are so many stories to turn to for inspiration. Patients who were told they would die and then lived 50 more years, or people who were destitute and were suddenly blessed with money. But we need not turn any further than our waking up this morning.

    As we awaken to the miracles in our daily lives, we will awaken to a day full of possibility, hope, and God’s salvation.

    With prayers for shalom, peace,
    Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
    Founder and President, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews


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