The New Year is almost here, and I don’t know about you, but I am ready to embrace a fresh start.
I think most of us can agree that 2020 was one we will never forget. However, what I would rather do than over-analyze the disappointments of this past year, is look forward to the changes that this next year will bring. What changes you ask? That’s up to you. Well, partly anyway. There are a number of factors we can’t control. We can’t control our government or the people around us. We can’t possibly know what surprises 2021 will hold for us….
But, we can control how we respond. We can choose our perspective. The unique lens through which we view the events that unfold in our past, present, and future.
And that in my opinion, is more powerful than any external forces around us.
We have a chance to make the most of what we’re given.
One of the mistakes I think we make in approaching the New Year, is that we cheapen our journey of progress in the form of ‘resolutions’. Sure, resolutions are good (if you can keep them, that is). But I also believe that we run the risk of turning genuine opportunities for growth into meaningless rituals when we leave God out of the equation. We can also begin to compartmentalize areas of our life that we think we can manage on our own.
Trying to eat healthy? Great. Want to further hone your talents? Awesome. Trying to be more loving? Perfect. These are truly a worthwhile goals…but do these ‘resolutions’ really matter? Or are they just part of your yearly tradition?
You may want to see change, but are you willing to go deeper in order to get it?
If we are ever to move past cheap wishful thinking, we will have to uncover the wrong thinking behind our bad habits, and we will have to seek God for the strength we need to change them. We will have to overcome our past hurts and learn how to process failure in a way that productive and healthy, without the burden of excessive guilt.
In fact, what I think we most could stand to learn, is the art of resilience. The ability to bounce back; to recover from setbacks and find our sense of purpose once again. Resilience is what helps us wake up in the morning and try again after disappointment. But I am not talking about just any resilience…I am talking about resilience that comes from the Holy Spirit. Resilience that goes far beyond our own capacity to make things right. Resilience that requires the intervention of our creator.
The book of Isaiah is unique in that it is mostly exclusively composed of prophecies directed toward the exiled nation of Israel. At the time that Isaiah 43 was written, these Israelites had taken residence in Babylon, awaiting a sign of hope. The prophet calls them to repentance, as well as promises redemption. In this specific passage, the writer urges his people to let go of the past and fix their focus on the future ahead of them.
Isaiah 43:18-19-“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
God promises that He will come to their aide, even in their ‘wilderness. Even in a place that seems barren, destitute, and hopeless, God is ready to restore a sense of love, hope, and purpose. He longs to revive those dead places in their hearts, and restore the sense of clear vision that once guided their pursuits. While they may have felt stuck, God makes it clear that he has not forgotten them.
Israel was not hopeless, and neither are you.
Like the Israelites, I believe that we are desperately in need of new vision.
The ‘new thing’ that God is doing, might mean something different for each of us. However, what I believe we all have in common, is that our outlook is changing. Our potential is increasing. Places where we once felt stuck will finally begin show signs of movement. Doing the impossible will suddenly become possible. Doors that were once shut will begin to open; pathways will suddenly clear in front of you. Even in places you see no sign of progress, I believe that God fully intends bring his visions for you to fruition.
His timing may not be your timing, but it is perfect. That much I am confident of.
I don’t know what kind of ‘wilderness’ you find yourself in as this year comes to an end, but my hope is that you will receive a fresh perspective as you enter the new year. That your eyes will be opened to a new vision for 2021. That you will be able to see the opportunities that God has laid out for you. That you will be fully aware of all the ways that your creator is providing and caring for you.
Although life may be unpredictable, your faith in Christ can remain firm. He can be your constant source of comfort and reassurance. And even better, He can guide you into new territory, if you will let him. He can give you victory in places you once experienced loss.
If you have stagnant places in your mind, heart, spirit, or body, don’t settle for mediocrity. Allow Christ to do a work within you. Let him give you the breakthrough you need. Ask him to transform your heart and give you fresh zeal and insight for the road ahead.
Let him do a new thing.
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