Gladly bidding farewell to a difficult 2016, we in Baton Rouge seem eager to start fresh with a new year. But when you think about it, the simple fact that it’s now 2017 really shouldn’t produce these feelings of having a “blank slate.” After all, the difficulties of the previous year are still with us, and a new year doesn’t really “fix” anything. The great things about your life are basically the same. The really tough things about your life are basically the same. God is exactly the same. Yet, we all find ourselves hopeful about what 2017 will look like in regard to loving God and loving people.
So why does the new year inspire us to pursue life differently? Because you are not the same. For unknown reasons, something shifts internally when January 1 rolls around, and God is excited about the impact something so simple can have on His children.
Isaiah 66:2 tells us that God is looking to bless those with humble and contrite hearts who respect what He has to say. When we are teachable and expectant, His activity in our lives is obvious, and we respond with joyful obedience. A new year humbly postures our hearts and minds in ways that are ready to seek Him, so we must welcome this freshness and embrace all that He has in store.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Here, God shows us that the key to our transformation into Christ-likeness is not found in having more willpower or trying harder, but in learning and training to think differently. It is from this renewed mind that we feel and act, so we must invite Jesus into all of our hopes for the coming year.
Perhaps through the “blank slate” of a new year, God wants to help us be humble and contrite, so we can learn how to think correctly about Him, ourselves, our families, churches, neighbors, city, state, country, and world. Let’s follow Him faithfully into the coming year. ■