My assistant, Kate, is having a new baby and I can hardly wait! Not only am I excited because I already feel like a “sort of grandmother” to her two young daughters but also because there is absolutely nothing in the world that leaves me more awe struck and wonder filled than a fresh-from-God newborn. Their smell, their skin, their short rhythmic breathing, their sighs of contentment as they nurse or take the bottle, the feel of their warmth as they lie sleeping on your chest . . . all are treats to the senses.
But what amazes me most is just their newness. They’re so full of hope and possibilities, so untainted and unscarred by life. Life is a clean slate that has yet to be written upon. Is it any wonder that the symbol for the New Year is a baby wearing a banner with the number of the new year written across it? 365 days that have yet to be lived. Words that have yet to be spoken. Ideas that have yet to be formed. Experiences that as of now have never been explored. A fresh chance. A new beginning.
They’re so full of hope and possibilities, so untainted and unscarred by life. Life is a clean slate that has yet to be written upon.
If there’s anything I love, it’s a new experience. Whether it’s visiting a new country, trying a new recipe, making a new friend or attempting a new skill, I usually am thrilled to be adding to my gumbo of life. On our recent vacation to Mexico I finally got up the courage to try paddle boarding for the very first time. Admittedly getting from the kneeling position to an upright position on the board was not something I would have wanted any of you to see but once I was standing and moving forward in the water I felt pretty proud of myself. I did notice, however, that the lifeguard didn’t take his eyes off me in case he had to rescue the aging adventurous American who just had to try something new!
Jesus loved new things as well. Check out this scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW.” Wow. That’s a lot of newness. New thoughts, new habits, new responses, new motives. We actually get the chance to be made into a NEW PERSON because of HIM. If you have not asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, I invite you to do so today. He really can perform the miracle of taking your own sin nature away and replacing it with something more like him. He wipes the slate clean and in certain ways you become like that newborn baby who has yet to experience choices and consequences.
Saul is a great example of someone for whom all things were made new. Saul was a tyrant who persecuted and imprisoned followers of Jesus. He even consented to the death by stoning of Stephen. A radical blood thirsty man bent on the complete destruction of Christianity, Saul was made new after his direct encounter with the risen Lord.
That same Saul who later was referred to as Paul (the Roman version of his name) is credited with writing 13 of the books of the New Testament which we read today. He became completely devoted to Jesus and to the spreading of His gospel, to mentoring and encouraging and to caring for believers of his time. His profile looks nothing like the man we first meet in Acts 9 who is described as “breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”. All things were made new!
He wipes the slate clean and in certain ways you become like that newborn baby who has yet to experience choices and consequences.
As you enter 2018, I’d like you to think about what it is you want Jesus to make new in YOU this year. Is it your bad temper? A lack of discipline in a certain area of your life? An attitude of bitterness or unforgiveness? Perhaps a spiritual life that is dull and lackluster?
Consider what John recorded in his vision of the Lord (Revelation 21:5), “And the One seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.” As you spend time thinking of what it is you want made new in yourself this year, I encourage you to do just exactly what Jesus instructed John to do . . . write it down. Writing it down helps it to imbed into our minds and our spirits. Whenever you find scriptures that build up your faith to believe for that change in your life write those down as well. Plaster them on your mirror, your wall, your car. Wherever it is you will see them and more fully believe those words to be “faithful and true”. As you continually ask God to make you new, I believe you will begin to see change in yourself in the days to come.
Years ago I hired a young woman to clean our home. She was a single mom with a little girl she adored, was faithful to all of her commitments, exuded the joy of Jesus and always had a spirit of contentment about her even though her lifestyle was modest and simple. She would often go about her work singing or humming and I never once heard her complain about any of her life’s circumstances. The light and love she had in her life, actually EVERYTHING in her life, was completely different from what it had been a few years before.
Sandi had become an exotic dancer at an early age. Young and beautiful, she had no idea of the darkness that path would lead her to. Drugs, prostitution, fear, shame and loss of dignity were her daily diet in a world that had sucked her deeper into its trenches. But like Saul of Tarsus, one direct and dramatic encounter with Jesus for Sandi made all things new. Her desires, her habits and her lifestyle all changed as she asked Jesus to help her create a new kind of life for herself and the baby she was bringing into the world. And He did!
After Sandi had worked for us a couple of years we moved to another town but by then God had brought a wonderful Christian man into her life who loved her and her daughter and wanted to create a family with them. I loved Sandi’s story and how it so clearly fleshed out God’s desire to make all things new in us and for us.
He is the champion of change! And if you ask him to, He will gladly be a part of creating a new you in this new year. Happy New Year everyone!