There is a sense of wonder that comes with the new year. The first days of January show up filled with daring hope. A fresh, new page on your wall calendar feels inviting and pregnant with possibility. Plans beg to spring forth. This is the time when we declare New Year’s resolutions, before the rhythms of our everyday life trample over them.
These coming days will witness changes in ourselves and those around us. Children will grow a few inches. Students will finish another year, and some will graduate and go on to the next phase in their lives. For some of us, there will be a few more grey hairs, and each of us will celebrate another trip around the sun on one of those calendar pages.
There will also be unforeseen events: an endeavor that didn’t flourish as we’d hoped, a diagnosis we didn’t expect, a move we didn’t plan, or even good news that forces change. These will feel like an unwelcome invitation to walk down a path we don’t know – one that isn’t marked ahead of time on the calendar.
Out of the ordinary
Yet this unknown is as much a gift as the wonder we feel on January 1st. It will hold an opportunity to walk by faith on ground we don’t know and can’t see, made possible because we are known by the God who knows and sees everything, holding all the days of our lives in the palm of His hand.
For a few days, the newness of the year takes our breath away before it quickly becomes old to us. And in the midst, there is a different new that is out of the ordinary. It happens within us, through the work of Another. Its making is subtle, quiet, and as regular as our heartbeat. It is ongoing, and all circumstances are part of its making.
It’s much like the new that God brought into the world when He used the most ordinary parts of life to forge the most extraordinary event. Like the King of the world having a feed box for animals for his crib, or his parents fleeing a murderous king. The ordinary and the unpredictable mess of the human condition was integral in the development of the greatest event that we celebrated just last month.
So it is with us. Both the predictable routines like grocery shopping, and the life-altering moments like a doctor’s unexpected phone call or losing your job – they all play a part in the new we’re being transformed into.
Right here and now
In the book of Revelation, John records the vision he was given of the second coming of Jesus: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)
The first sentence is declaring the right order of things – we are given a foretaste of God’s desire and plan. No tears, no pain, no mourning.
What follows ties together our present time and all time: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:5 ESV)
Although this passage is set in the future, it records a powerful statement in the active voice, like an ongoing promise that is being fulfilled as we speak. This verse is in the present tense, not the past or future. It does not say He will make all things new, nor does it say that He made them new. Rather, He is making all things new.
When He makes his dwelling place with us, He is using all things toward the renewal of creation. And that includes our minds and hearts. The new that He is bringing about happens right in the middle of the toddler meltdown at the store, and the hard disagreement with a loved one. It is in the trenches of this messy life that God is redeeming and creating a new one.
As you stare at your calendar and begin to fill it with life’s moments and expectations, how might the Lord be making you new through it all? Pause and pray. Hold all those plans and expectations with an open hand. As you write in the blank spaces in your calendar the coming meetings, birthdays, and due dates for projects, remember that God is more interested in our growth in Christ-like character than our efficient household management.
He holds your days
Ask the Lord to give you a heart for His things, and to align your heart to His will, because He is in the business of renewing His creation for His glory, and He will do so in small moments accumulated over time.
Ask Him for the ability to pay attention. May He give us eyes to seek Him in the seemingly small moments, and a heart to lean into grace when the irritants disturb our daily routine.
Rejoice that he is making everything new right here and now. Our God is actively working out His transformation through the desired, planned-for results and the unpredictable circumstances that will crash our to-do list and leave us winded.
Certainly, January marks a new beginning with a fresh, new year. Three hundred and sixty-five new days waiting to be lived in, broken into, and packed with mercy for each 24-hour unit we face. Remember: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) Let the wonder of that promise be your anchor when the magic of New Year’s Day begins to fade.
As you step into your January life, take this truth and tuck it in your heart: He is present and at work. He is making all things new now and even then, whenever then finds us tired and broken. Our God lives, and our God reigns! He is where you are headed this year and He holds all your days in the palm of His hand.