New Year Beginnings and Endings
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The world is full of beginnings and endings. We begin a new year with a certain hope—another year, another chance, a new day. But we carry with us the same fears, the same longings, the same resolutions. A more cynical riposte thus might be: Is there ever really anything new about a new year?
When the past or present seems so broken that its shards seem to reach well into the future, new days are often filled more with fear than with promise. I remember a time myself when I could see the end of a difficult situation, but I could not see a beginning unmarred by the residue of the past. “Is there really such a thing as a new day?” was the question I held disconsolately. A friend gave me the following words and asked me to hold them instead:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”1
Spoken in a time of exile, I imagine these words were as pungent for the people they were spoken to as they were for me. The ancient writer held fast to the assurance of things new, even in the midst of a situation that blinded him from any vision of what that could possibly mean. In all of the suffering and sorrow surrounding him, it would not have been unreasonable for him to admit that he saw no way out. With all the damage that had been done, with the uncertainty of exile, and the finality of a destroyed Jerusalem, no one would have blamed him for seeing new mornings as nothing but a cynical promise of more of the same.
But this was not the lament on this writer’s lips. Written in the style of an ancient funeral song, the writer’s words, though consumed with death, call to this God by name: The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. Another translation reads, Because of Yahweh’s great love we are not consumed; his mercies are new every morning. What the writer was able to see in the midst of his own lamentation is that only an all-powerful God can truly make a beginning. New mornings, new years, in and of themselves, are useless and worse than useless if they are not seen as belonging to the one who makes all things new.
This day is new because it is a day made by the God of visions and beginnings, the God who came to live among mortals, the God who offers Himself as a new portion every morning. Behold Him come, for this is the Christian hope of newness.—Jill Carattini2
Dear Master, for this coming year
Just one request I bring:
I do not pray for happiness,
Or any earthly thing—
I do not ask to understand
The way Thou leadest me,
But this I ask: Teach me to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
I want to know Thy guiding voice,
To walk with Thee each day.
Dear Master, make me swift to hear
And ready to obey.
And thus the year I now begin
A happy year will be—
If I am seeking just to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
Looking forward—Words from Jesus
I have brought you through this year, a year of change, a year of new challenges, a year of tests, a year of growth. As you now stand on the threshold of a new year, I will strengthen you and provide My grace, and prepare you in spirit for what is ahead.
I am pleased with the progress that you have made over the past year. I am pleased for all the times that you came unto Me and praised Me, that you listened to My voice speaking to your heart, that you sought Me and drank deeply of the wine of My Word.
I know that you have also struggled in this past year. But hold fast to your crown; let no man take it from you! I will open new doors for you by the power of My Spirit. Go through these doors in faith, that you may receive My blessings. I will answer your prayers. I will draw you nigh to Me. I will anoint you to preach the gospel and to reach the lost.
Be as My faithful servant Noah, who in the time of his preparation built his ark. Build your ark in spirit by drawing nigh to Me, by seeking Me at every turn, by committing your life and works to Me‚ by witnessing and reaching out to those I place in your path, so that this will be a year of growth—growth in spirit, in your witness to others, and in drawing nigh to Me.
Do not be afraid of the size or the power of the waves you face in the year ahead. Be immovable, unwavering, full of faith, trusting in Me. Know that I am with you always and will uphold you and bring you safely to My final destination.
In times of darkness I will be your light. In times of sadness I will be your joy. In times of struggle I will be your deliverance. In times of weakness I will be your strength. In times of question I will be your answer. So never be discouraged or disheartened. Never agonize over the past, and never fear for the future. Come to Me, and you will find perfect forgiveness, perfect comfort, perfect strength, perfect love, from now until forever.—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
New beginnings make new endings
I recently saw this quote: “No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” I really began to think about that statement. The conclusion was that we don’t start over; we begin again right where we are, making things better in our lives.
As a believer in Christ, it is not about saying I will do this and I won’t do that, and then dropping the idea or falling short. It is more about asking the Lord to help us each day to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him. This way our focus will be set on the things of heaven and not on all this earthly stuff.
If I were to make a New Year resolution, it would be to have a deeper commitment, a deeper love, and a deeper worship for the Lord. In the beginning of this past year, He spoke to me in that still small voice in prayer and said, “I am more than enough. I am more than enough in every area of your life.” He also said to tell others the same thing.
This year I am determined to make Him my all and all. He wants our undivided attention in spite of the distractions and temptations that lie waiting around the corner. He has to be our main focus.
How we will end this year will be determined by how we started it. Did we want to get more “INTIMATE” with the lover of our soul? I looked up the word intimacy, and the meaning is to be close, familiar, very personal and private.
Do you want a new ending this year? How do you want the ending of your life? If you’re not a Christian, please know that this could be the best New Year of your life. Your life can be filled with hope and peace. To know what the ending will be is an extra bonus.
Why should every year be the same as the one before, with nothing really changing? After all, the New Year resolutions may or may not get accomplished.
If you are a Christian and you feel stagnant in your relationship with the Lord, then now is the time to rekindle the love affair with Him. He calls us to Himself and says, “Come away, my beloved.” Can you hear Him? He is tugging at your heart. The real ending in our life will be when Jesus says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That statement will be for [those] who took the time to get to know Him, love Him, and that obediently followed Him.—Cathy Irvin3
Published on Anchor December 2015. Read by Jason Lawrence.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 Lamentations 3:21–24.