A new year has just begun. On Sunday night, as I sat down to write my weekly update for those who support Soul Hope Ministries through prayer, my thoughts were full of my highs and lows from 2017. I wrote, 'Tomorrow will be just another day, but because it's January 1, it will feel like a fresh start. It was very good of God to give us days, months and seasons. To grow, we need to experience change and, since the fall, we will always crave new beginnings.'
We do love a good beginning, don't we? For those of us who like to read, when we open a new book and the first sentence of the first paragraph draws us in, captures our imagination and sends a little tingle down our spine, we feel a deep satisfaction and settle in, fully expecting that, 'this will be a good one.' Who doesn't like the first day of their vacation, the beginning of a new semester, those few milestones they can claim are 'the first day of the rest of our lives'? It feels like we can breathe again, like anything is possible and, for just that moment, we are new.
The Bible begins with the words 'In the beginning' and we are told that God Himself declared it to be very good. Everything was new and everything was bursting with possibility and potential. There was no fear or shame, only confidence and hope. But then, we are told, things went very wrong. The first man and woman made a decision to act independently and reject the counsel of their Creator. They doubted His ultimate goodness and stepped forward to take what had captured the lust of their eyes, the lust of their flesh and their pride of life. This one decision changed everything and God declared that human life on earth would now be one of great pain and difficulty.
This is something we are quite familiar with. We experience the consequence of rejecting God's counsel each and every day. Nothing quite lives up to it's potential. That book we thought would be 'a good one' turns out to be a disappointment. The second day of our vacation turns out to be sort of crummy. Syllabus shock sets in. The second year of the 'rest of our lives' is way harder than we imagined it would be. Everything is in bondage, pulling at its chains to outstretch the looming shadow of death.
The funny thing about being human is that we always seem to be able to look around and find something 'new' to place our hope in. We whisper to ourselves, 'maybe this time things will turn out better.' ...Really?
The awesome truth is that God is still good. Human decision did not and does not have the power to change or alter the character or purpose of God.
The awesome truth is that our yearning for a new beginning has already been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The awesome truth is that the book that began so well and turned out to be a disappointment does have a final chapter that brings us back to the beginning, to a garden, where everything is finally and forever new.
Revelation 21:3-5 says, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.''
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, our New Beginning.