Food For Serious Thought

The new year is here. If you are not aware of it now you will be shortly, when you receive your annual notification from dear Uncle Sam. His revenue department is very thoughtful about this sort of thing.

January is to us, as Abib was to Israel, the "beginning of months." It initiates a new year. Therefore it has come to be a time for starting over. The chance to begin again should not be taken lightly. Even God, after a rather unsuccessful endeavor with Adam and his descendants, wiped the slate clean and started over with the family of Noah. As humans we make mistakes regularly. To some degree we botch up every project we undertake. For this reason we constantly look for opportunities to try again. We always want another shot at it. If we do not like the hand we have drawn we wait for a new shuffle and a different set of cards. If our team loses the championship we "wait til next year" and the start of a new season. For anyone, especially losers, nothing is quite so important as the knowledge that there will be another chance next year. Wonderful January seems to bring this chance. This is when we assess the situation, make our adjustments, then back off and take another run at it.

In reality, however, in spite of our New Year's resolutions and high sounding talk about the "golden opportunities'' offered to us by the coming year, the first of January does not automatically produce a new beginning. New Year's Day does not necessarily give us a fresh set of downs. January is actually an extension of December. The time line is not broken between the two. This year is a continuation of last year. True, we have to learn to write new digits when we date our checks. The numbers have changed; but this may well be the only thing that has. Much as we might desire January to be the start of "a brand new ball game," it isn't. Those who had their life in a big mess at the year's end will probably find it still in a mess. The calendar change certainly will not help the situation. Those who had serious health problems the last week of December are likely to suffer those difficulties for a long time to come. The new year will not make the sick well, nor will it make the old young or the bad good. Those who are lost in sin, out of covenant with God, without promise or hope, will not find their status the least bit altered or improved with the coming of the new year. It will take more than a new year to accomplish this.

Actually I can think of only two people who will start out absolutely fresh from day one of January; those who were born January 1, 1989, and those who were "born again" on that day. In either case the date is purely incidental. What is important is the knowledge that God has made provision in the gospel system of grace whereby we may have a second chance. The new birth puts us back at square one. It is more than a new lease on an old life. It is a completely new start, an altogether new life. The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." While the month of January has no bearing at all on the opportunity God has given us to start over, right now does happen to be January. This means January is now; and "now" is the only time we have. Is there a better time for starting over?