Summary: As we think about the new year, we need to see that: 1. God is always doing a new thing. 2. Only God can bring about real change. 3. God’s new name for us means a new beginning.
I love to read the comics, and one of my favorites used to be “Calvin and Hobbes.” Calvin and Hobbes are talking about the new year when Calvin says, “I’m getting disillusioned with these new years. They don’t seem very new at all Each new year is just like the old year Here another year has gone by and everything’s still the same There’s still pollution and war and stupidity and greed Things haven’t changed I say what kind of future is this? I thought things were supposed to improve I thought the future was supposed to be better ” Hobbes replies with his usual erudition, “The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present.”
The new year is traditionally a time for reflection. We look back over the year and assess our successes and failures. We gain some satisfaction over our successes, and we experience some grief and guilt over our failures. Each time we face a new beginning we have hopes that things will be different, and hopefully better. But as Hobbes says, the future just keeps turning into more of the present. If we are not careful to allow the fresh breezes of the Holy Spirit to blow across our lives the future will not be full of exciting new possibilities, positive change and new growth; it will just be more of the same.
It happened that two men were talking about one of their colleagues and one said, “Did you know he has 30 years of experience in his field?” But his friend’s response was, “Actually, he has not had thirty years of experience. He has had one year of experience thirty times.” The future kept turning into the present for him.
As we think about this new year, I would like to say first of all: God is always doing a new thing. When we live in harmony with a creative God we keep experiencing new things, and discover that we are constantly growing in new ways. Growth is a principle that God has built into the universe. He loves doing things in new ways. He says, “See I am making everything new ” (Revelation 21:5). That is the exciting thing about knowing God. The Lord spoke through Isaiah the prophet saying, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing ” (Isaiah 43:18-19). What a thrilling God we serve How exciting to be at the point where we sense that God is wanting to do new things with our lives, and in our life together as a church How wonderful it is to walk with him.
But letting God do a new thing in us is sometimes threatening. And even when we want to experience what God has for us it is not always easy. How many of you know what it is like to be determined and resolved to change some things and see your resistance shattered the same day you made your resolution? The problem is that we are soon overcome by old habits and forget our resolutions, and our resolve goes out the window. Turning over a new leaf seldom affects us in a lasting way. What we need is not inspiration, but transformation. We need a change in our lives that comes from God. What every person needs is something that will permanently affect their life situation. Something that will truly satisfy the longings, the needs, and the aches of life. Something that will bring true and lasting change.