Wednesday, January 1, 2014
"Time isn't kind or unkind, you liked to say." And it's true. Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) sings this in a song about a girl he used to love, a beautiful song I highly recommend. It got me thinking on this brand new day of a brand new year. We mark the time in minutes and days and years, and we like to think that new times -- new hours, new days, new years -- hold more kindness. Their fresh cleanliness feels like a promise. And in a way, they do. Plenty of people "poo poo" on New Year's resolutions, but a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: "We KNOW it's not magic; it's MOTIVATION." This brand new day on this brand new year promises nothing more than yesterday's brand new day in yesterday's boring old year. But the newness of today in the newness of this year, while it won't bonk up on the head with its magic wand and make us altogether new, it points our eyes toward change and we should take the opportunity to consider.
Newness catches us in a way that the familiar cannot. It drives the consumerist obsession to buy, buy, buy because when you buy, you acquire something new, something you never had before. We like new notebooks, fresh and clean. We like new babies, full of pretty promises (even though we quickly discover they're mostly full of poop...). We like a sunrise and a strong downbeat and the opening sentence and a new download. We accumulate our new things and new people and new days and new memories and we hoard them like dragons. As parents, we document the first this's and that's and the never-want-to-forgets because this moment was once new and it will become old and we never want to forget the freshness of the start.
Partly, we live this out through our kids because we cannot remember our start. We know ourselves right now, where we are, and maybe we remember some about when we were little, but we forget our beginnings. We know we began and maybe we have parents who can tell us all about it, what we were like or what we did. I apparently exited my mother with my eyes and mouth wide open. I'm not sure anyone who knows me is surprised by this. I will tell my son how he was so snuggly and warm from the minute we met him. I will tell my daughter how her cry was piercing and fierce and then she was calm. They won't remember, but I will. And the start of them means something. It is worth remembering and telling because it began a big, bold, new person.
We can't remember our beginnings but we can begin again today on this new year. We can wash clean and start anew and be the person we've always wanted to be. A skinnier person, a stronger person, a neater person, a smarter person. A better mom, a better teacher, a better prayer, a better you. Perhaps people make resolutions to be crappier in general, but I don't know these people. We realize that, yes, we could start these steps any day at any time we choose. But what a better marker than the marked beginning? We changed when time changed. How appropriate.
We can become new. We can change. But we require a power beyond ourselves. There is a reason we are fatter or weaker or messier or less intelligent than we want to be. There's a reason we can see a need for improvement in our parenting or profession or prayer life. We are missing the mark in some ways. I'm not advocating the kind of self-deprecation that sends you into a well of wallowing misery. But it's true. We fall short in some way and we can see how and where. But do we see why? Do we see how we are broken at our cores, not just at our extremities? Do we see that the source of our need for change is not in our momness or our fatness or our messiness? Do we see that all those things stem straight out from our hearts?
Jesus is the King of new. God says, "Behold, I am making all things new." Don't miss the tense there. He did not say, "Behold, I made all things new" or "Behold, I will make all things new" but... "Behold" -- watch, look, right now -- "I am making all things new." Am making. Right now. Doing it. Look around you and see that God is doing work that brings about change, that brings about newness. In all times and in all places, newness is coming. And through that newness, we can change.
We can't remember our beginnings. We don't remember the void because we weren't there. We don't remember watching the universe form or the earth piece together or the sun appear in the sky -- because we weren't there. We don't remember the dust of the earth rising up and swirling together, a cloud that materialized into man, that became woman -- because we weren't there. But our Father tells us. He tells us how we started, how we were made, how we became. And that beginning is important and worth remembering and worth telling because it began a big, bold, new creation. A creation that God deemed "good" and then with us... "very good". We are His very goods and He is about the business of making us new. This newness, this change, this beginning doesn't appear out of the air to well up inside you and make a whole new you. This change comes from the One who began it all and the One who has the power to make you new.
Think about this in 2014. Think about this when you want to become new. Think about this when you are tempted to beat yourself up or build yourself up. Point your eyes to the One who makes things new and seek to see what is being done, around you and in you in this very moment. Set your eyes on the One who has the newness we all desire. He doesn't promise to fulfill all our New Year's resolutions if we ask nicely. But He does promise transformation in the direction of Him. And this is a change we should desire above all others, a change with a promise and a truth. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God..." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a)