Late last night, our family arrived home from Christmas holidays, all of us very tired from a 15 hour drive. I went to investigate what food we had and made an unfortunate discovery: all the dairy had gone bad in the few days we were away.
Our fridge had just been scrubbed the week we’d left for holidays, so thankfully, it was all still quite clean. I quickly tossed everything that had outdated while we were gone, then stared at our spotless and nearly-empty fridge and the bizarre assortment of mostly nothing to eat.
In my home, the refrigerator is basically the only fresh and sparkling thing heading into 2020. I think for most of us, a New Year doesn’t actually signify a blank slate, or a brand new start. We like the concept of “New Year, New You”. We love the idea of something brand new and unblemished, a renewed chance to “get it right” and “start again”.
But the truth is, we carry almost everything from the old year into the new. We don’t become different people when the clock strikes 12 and the confetti falls. Our challenges and struggles, our personalities and besetting sins, our disappointments and unmet goals – these all follow us as the calendar page turns over.
New Year’s Eve People
Personally, I believe there are three types of people on New Year’s Eve: one is optimistic and eager to start something new on January 1st, so they jump into resolutions and set goals for better habits. They might even be the type of people who meet the following New Year’s Eve with a lot of satisfaction because they managed to keep up their goals for all 365 days.
Another kind starts the year already having given up. “Why bother? I’ll just fail anyway,” they might say inwardly. So they avoid setting any new personal objectives or risking additional disappointment in themselves.
The third might have a mixture of optimism and apprehension when they set new goals. “I’ll try again but I’ll probably drop the habit sometime around the end of January or at best, early March.” They know themselves well enough to be aware of their own weakness and tendency towards inconsistency. And yet, they’re willing to give it a shot, hoping this year will be different.
I generally fall into that last category. I’m familiar with the dreariness of February and March so I prefer to start working on my goals at the beginning of summer, or around my birthday in October. Reading through the whole Bible beginning in September has worked well for me for a couple of years and I recently made myself a plan for reading through the Psalms every month. Still, I like the idea of creating a new habit that will help me with self-discipline and growth.
I’m not sure what type of person you are on New Year’s Eve, but if you’re in Christ, you have a great deal of hope to carry into 2020. Whether you’re starting a new Bible reading habit or planning to exercise a certain number of days per week, by God’s grace, your hopes don’t ultimately rest in your strength to persevere and complete your goals. Jesus is your hope.
It’s a beautiful thing that we enter a new year right after celebrating Christmas. We face January with hearts fresh from remembering and meditating on Jesus’ birth and all He’s accomplished for us.
He came and lived and died for you and me. He faced every temptation, obeyed, and persevered on our behalf. He died the death we deserved and rose victorious, ascending into heaven. He’s secured not only our eternal salvation, but also our access to the Father, and the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit to guide, convict, and comfort us.
You can have hope going into the New Year that God knows every area you need to grow in and He is determined to conform you to the image of Christ. He may work this in us using the goals we set for the New Year, but we also know He can even use our stumbling and failure. None of our lapses in maintaining our New Year’s resolutions deter Him from accomplishing His purposes for us.
Set Goals, Trust God
As we submit our hopes and desires for personal growth and change to Him, we can trust that He will meet our needs and complete the good work He began in us.
Do you want to become more prayerful in 2020? Ask Him to increase your desire to pray, to show you opportunities you might have been missing, and to preserve your strength in prayer.
Are you wanting to grow in physical health and strength so you can serve Jesus with more endurance? Ask Him for the grace and perseverance to meet your health goals.
Did you set a goal of reading through the Bible starting January 1? Ask the Lord to empower you by His Spirit to set aside distractions and seek His face. Ask Him to encourage you when you fail, and for the determination to jump in and start again when you miss a day or ten.
Yes, you will carry various sin struggles and weakness into the next year. But something much greater and stronger carries you into 2020 and that is God’s mercy for you, fresh and new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).
Solid Truth for the New Year
Friend, “New Year, New You” is a bit of a fable that lets us down time and again. But “New Year, New Mercies” is a solid, enduring truth we can cling to.
Forget the goals in 2019 that you lapsed on, or dropped altogether. Don’t let their memory drag you down and discourage you from hoping to do better this year.
Press on in faithfulness and in the strength of Christ for the upward call of God (Philippians 3:13-15). Fix your eyes on Jesus and set new goals, because He offers you the freedom to make plans and have confidence that His mercy will be waiting for you tomorrow in the New Year and every day after.