In reflecting on the New Year, the author of The Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel, writes: – ‘I belong to a squash club, which is also a gym. Each year on 1 January they bring in extra gym equipment. The place is packed out. By about 7 January, they move out all the extra equipment, as most people have given up their New Year’s resolution, and the club returns to normal!
Get fit… Lose weight… Reduce drinking… Stop smoking… Get out of debt… There is nothing wrong with making these common New Year’s resolutions. Of course, all of us make resolutions that we fail to keep.
The good news is that each year is an opportunity for a fresh start. But then so is each week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week – a new beginning. Actually, every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.’
The Bible is full of stories of people’s new beginnings from the most challenging of circumstances, because it is the account of how God redeems us from the situations – large and small – that we find ourselves in (and get ourselves into!) Just think of the new beginnings that God brought about for Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, David, Mary & Joseph, Peter, Paul and countless other characters from biblical history. Now think of the new beginnings that God has brought about in your life, and give thanks for his faithfulness. But, as the ‘works in progress’ that we inevitably are, we know that there is both the potential and the need for more new beginnings ahead of us. Some of them may take the form of New Year resolutions.
‘I want to read the Bible more’ – Why not use a resource that helps you read it in one year? (It’s not too late to start!)
‘I want to learn to pray more effectively’ – How about keeping a journal of your prayer requests, and perhaps more importantly, of what God says to you?
‘I want to be more available for other people’ – Perhaps you could start by spending time with them over a cup of coffee?
‘I want to rediscover who God made me to be’ – Sometimes we need to give up some of the things that we couldn’t say ‘no’ to, in order to recapture a good rhythm of work and rest.
Whatever your desire or need for a new beginning is at the start of 2019, remember that every day throughout the year is an opportunity for God to continue his redemptive work in your life. This year, may you find that he continues to bring about the new beginnings that you most need so that, by his grace, you can live for Him.
With my love and prayers