Every New Year is the hope of a new beginning. But I often drag the last year into the new one, don’t you? Or worse, I drag a bunch of years, maybe even a whole lifetime, into the New Year. But wait, aren’t we supposed to carry our lives forward? Learn from our mistakes and become better people? Of course, but we are not the source of change. This is good news. We are not the “becomers”: God is! Our own resolutions lead to self-effort, which often end in miserable self -defeat. No, instead, we are meant to become new: new creations being renewed daily, as we allow God to continually make us new in Him.
First, we must forgive
Forgiveness makes all things new. It takes an old injury and removes it from our offense list. We forgive, we forget, and we can then begin anew. But what if we face the same insanity again, maybe with the same people, or maybe packaged slightly differently, but still the same offense? Pause. Ask the Lord how to proceed, how to pray, how to respond. Listen for His response.
Only forgiven people are free to act differently. When we keep a list of offenses, scenarios, vows, self-promises, and anything else that we have to keep in mind or feel the need to control, we exhaust ourselves with this ever growing list we carry around in our souls. Unfortunately, we then live with the same list over us, bound and restricted by those very offenses. Forgiveness is a two-way street; so is un-forgiveness. Whatever we are giving, we are receiving. This works with God, too: We can’t protect ourselves and be vulnerable to His love at the same time. When we protect ourselves, we seal ourselves off from the most amazing love experiences yet to be had with God every day in Christ. However, there is an ever-present invitation waiting for us: There is always more love to be experienced.
Next, we bless the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness!
Why? Because He IS good and faithful, and even though things have happened that seem to speak otherwise, He is good and faithful all the time. When we say so, our mouths shift our minds, loosen our souls’ discontent, and open us to new thoughts and expectations. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1).
Forgive everyone and everything, then bless the Lord for everyone and in everything.
Now, we are ready to receive the new! ALL things new! The act of receiving is taking hold of the new, not passively but rather, very intentionally. Revelation 21 speaks of a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem, where the Lord wipes away all tears as the former things pass away. God is so intent on complete newness that He makes an emphasis to John with a declaration, and even a charge to write it down: “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” (Revelation 21:5).
Forgive and forget, bless and receive, as we press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). YES, OF COURSE it’s in Christ Jesus! Our New Year is in Christ Jesus! We are not destined to repeat yesterday’s traumas, but rather to experience Jesus, forever triumphant! To be led always in triumph in Christ Jesus! (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Forgive and forget, bless and receive, and then press forward and praise.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a yearly event, or even a daily one, but a moment- by- moment union and communion with Jesus. We can connect with God and His newness in Christ. We can enjoy a perpetual state of renewal, His life raised up from all the dead places in our lives. . .His life, bursting forth from our yielded, forgiving and forgiven hearts, triumphantly moving forward into “All Things New!”