I think it’s time we face the facts about January 1st.
Not just the one we will celebrate in a few days, but all the ones that came before it.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a magic date on the calendar. Nothing earth-shattering happens when the clock ticks from 11:59 to 12:00. Whether we stay up and ring in the new year with noisemakers and countdowns or peacefully sleep right through the fireworks and gunshots, daylight brings the same result every single time. Nothing has changed except the date we will write on checks.
By January 2nd, all the New Year’s resolutions made by well-meaning folks around the globe are typically shredded like the confetti that litters Times Square after the ball drops mere hours before. It’s not wrong to hope for ourselves or our world to be different. We just falsely believed that only a particular day on the calendar would warrant such changes and therefore guarantee us success. Spoiler alert: It’s just a myth.
We don’t wake up instantly perfect, suddenly losing all interest in food and consequently losing ten pounds overnight or transformed into a super-spiritual being who will never again hit the snooze or neglect his or her time with the Lord.
All the hurts and struggles and failures of the year before do not disappear, despite our desire to leave them behind us, and most times fear and anxiety come trailing right along with us as we peer into the future and wish for something happier or better than what we’ve known.
All the drama of 2020, both the pandemic and the election, will show up like backwash in 2021 as it trickles down into every detail of our lives. COVID-19 will not disappear at the stroke of midnight, like Cinderella’s finery.
No, it will be the same you waking up to the same world on January 1 this year, just like last year and the one before that. If history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing really changes when we turn the page on the calendar.
AND THAT IS REALLY GOOD NEWS!
Because the truth is, it’s the unchanging part of our lives that gives us stability when the ground beneath us begins to crumble. It doesn’t matter how carefully you’ve saved and budgeted for retirement, how diligent you’ve been to build your business or career, or how intentionally you’ve poured into your family and friends. These things are temporary at best.
The only thing that remains the same is the presence, character, and nature of Christ.
The same God that showed up this year will show up again.
The same God that held you together when you were falling apart is still on duty.
The same God that cheered you on when you wanted to give up is still in your corner.
The same God that provides and protects is still providing and protecting.
Take a look at these incredible promises from the Word of God!
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8).
“I the Lord do not change,” (Malachi 3:6).
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever,” (Isaiah 40:8).
“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations,” (Psalm 33:11).
And here is, perhaps, my favorite of all.
“I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me,” (Hosea 14:8b).
I am especially grateful for pine trees in the dead of winter, when everything else becomes dead and brown, and the world lacks the vibrant colors of beauty and life we see the rest of the year. But those pine trees? They never change, no matter the season. Year after year after year.
So here’s the thing. If God compares himself to a pine tree, that means the life and beauty that characterize Him will remain through all seasons, throughout all the years, throughout eternity. And as we remain in Him and He remains in us, we can be fruitful no matter what the new year might bring. In many ways, it doesn’t really matter what happens in 2021. If God is your source of hope, of peace, and of joy, then even if you can’t find any other reason to celebrate this year, celebrate Him.
So what does this mean for you? It means you can high-five your friend, hug your kids, and kiss your spouse when the clock strikes twelve and say “Happy New Year”. And actually mean it.