We make a lot out of the New Year. I’ve never really thought about it as an odd thing until this year. It was just what you did. You celebrated with friends, watched a ball drop (!) and screamed like a silly person at midnight. Then you make promises to yourself about how you’re going to do better this year, and hope like heck you actually follow through.
I think that’s the evidence that all the weird ball-worshipping, booze swilling hoopla comes from a desire for a fresh beginning. We’ll do anything for a new beginning.
A Stopped Clock
If you want to be realistic and overly rigid about it, there’s really no difference in December 31st and January 1st. It’s just another step down the road. Another sunrise like any other sunrise. But it’s symbolic to us. It’s the burning remains of all our bad choices and cruddy decisions finally sizzling to a stop and then wildly rising from the ashes once more. It’s that fabled fresh slate made whole cloth from an arbitrary date on a calendar.
A chance to forgive ourselves.
We tell ourselves that all that garbage happened last year—in another life. This is the new me. This is the 2016 me. 2015 me ate too much, drank too much, smoked too much and was a bit grumpy. But 2016 me is going to break the mold and finally reach those goals that seemed ever further out of reach every day until the clocked struck midnight.
Not to be a negative nelly, but you probably won’t. Reach those goals, I mean. You might! Hope springs eternal, and all that. And people do accomplish things. Dreams come true left and right. But what if they don’t? What if this year is just another uneventful slog through the calendar? Worse, what if life decides to give you a good old-fashioned punch in the gut? What if you screw up worse than you ever thought you could and face next year’s midnight shame-faced and tired again?
What if I told you that you didn’t need to wait until next year for a clean slate? What if I said that all your resolutions can swirl down the potty of good intentions and you could still stand absolved? What if there was some sort of eternal state of New Year’s, where the clock stopped at midnight and decided to stay there, right at the moment of your fresh wholeness?
A Different Kind of Water
Jesus came to a well and a woman was there. She offered to get him a drink of water and He said, “I’ve got water you don’t even know about. Water, that if you drink it, you’ll never be thirsty again.”
So, the clock just stops. You’re in an eternally present new beginning. Everything’s fresh, new and forgiven. You’re clean. What do you do now?
What would you do if you fully realized that you didn’t have to work for it? If you knew you were forgiven and couldn’t screw it up because every moment was New Year’s? Every split second was a new beginning? If you could get out of your own head and just trust that you weren’t going to die of thirst?
How would you live?
As a follower of Jesus, your thirst is eternally slaked. You’re forgiven. Clean. You live in the eternal Happy New Year. Now that you don’t have to worry about earning it, what are you going to do?