In with the New

originally written for my “Family Time” Column in Fountain of Life Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016

It seems we are a people who love new beginnings.

Turning over a new leaf. Wiping the slate clean. Starting over. Waking up to the dawn of a new day.

As a child, no matter how much I loved summer vacation, there was always a tinge of excitement in getting ready for the new school year: new notebooks, new pencils, just think of that a brand-new box of crayons–not a single one broken!

The beginning of the new calendar year is no different. We set new goals. New diets. New exercise regimens. New disciplines.

It’s the new “Day One.”

Hence, my family tradition: Cleaning out the house on New Year’s Eve.

I have to admit, it makes me giddy thinking about it–organizing and straightening and unloading what we no longer need.

And doing it together as a family makes it a party, right?

Okay, sometimes it’s a hard sell. I do try to make it fun: the whole adding-sugar-to-medicine idea. We put on music, I give snack breaks, and I don’t complain when they take short pauses to play ping pong.

As long as the pauses aren’t cruise vacations.

And when it’s all done, that evening’s ringing-in-the-New-Year celebration is so much sweeter knowing we’re starting the year with a clean house.

I believe it’s a God-given love: this yearning to be a new creation, uncontaminated by the mess that we make of our lives. It shows, all the more, the Gospel—“proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” [Col. 1:23]

We long to be made new!

Of course, while I can clean up my own house, I can’t clean up my own life.

Oh, maybe I can for a day. Even two, if I have incredible willpower. Maybe.

But sooner or later, I fall back into my old ways—growing impatient with my kids, wanting my own way over my husband’s, wasting time on unimportant things—unless something completely changes me.

Makes me entirely new.

And there it is! That truth of salvation: 2 Cor. 5:17—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV).

Ahh, the comfort in knowing that, even with all the messes I’ve made of my life, because of Christ’s blood, God sees my life’s slate wiped spotlessly clean.

And one day I will step on heaven’s shores, to an eternity of perfect new days.

But what about here? Now?

Daily—okay, really minute by minute—He organizes and straightens my thoughts and actions. Unloading what I don’t need because it’s nothing but trash.

For, “the truth is in Jesus,
to put off your old self—which is corrupt through deceitful desires,
and to put on the new self—renewed,
created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
[Eph. 4:21-24, paraphrased]

Granted, that putting off / putting on can ONLY be done with Christ. On our own, we tend to get lost and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Here’s the perfect picture of that:

One year, I gave my teenage kids explicit instructions on separating unnecessary toys (which we would get rid of) from the classic ones—Fisher-Price, Little Tykes—i.e. those more expensive ones, which I carefully saved year after year for young visitors and future grandchildren.

I ran out to do some shopping for our New Year celebration.

When I got home, I was so encouraged to find the house spotless. Until I realized WHY it was so spotless.

They had decided that ALL my classic toys were unnecessary. Hey, why organize when you can just unload it all?

No, when we try to clean by ourselves, separate from Christ, we struggle to recognize real value and right motives.

But with Him, we are “renewed to a true knowledge in the image of our Creator.” [Col. 3:10]

Sometimes it seems like a never-ending process.

Kind of like how my kids feel on that last day of the old year when they’re stuck in the basement with dusty boxes and cleaning supplies.

But how sweet the celebration will be when midnight comes and we see how He has cleaned our house.

On that day, “the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me the crown of righteousness. And not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” [2 Tim. 4:8]

We will stand before Him and find ourselves in “a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13, NIV)

Yes, thankfully, we are a people who love new beginnings, a God-given trait—given to lead us to God Himself.

So, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, …press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14, ESV)

Here’s to New Beginnings.

Happy New Year!

(Unless otherwise noted, Bible verses are taken from the NASB translation.)

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5 thoughts on “In with the New”

  1. Diane Richards Weber

    What a refreshing reminder! You expressed it so well and now I am motivated to make some organizational changes. Thank you. God is so good and yes, He is good all the time!

  2. Actually, your kids getting rid of ALL the toys on New Year’s Eve also fits with God’s wiping our slate clean. We can’t bring anything of our own into our “new creation.” He does it all. Concerning sin, the old is gone. Even the stuff we liked. 🙂

    That being said, I’m sorry you lost your classic toys! I have some of my own that I’m hanging onto. I’d be upset if they disappeared!

    1. You are right, Laura. God definitely wipes our slate clean when He makes us a new creation. For that I am very grateful!

      After that, though, as I grow daily in Him, sometimes I don’t understand what is valuable and what is useless. I tend to hold on to what I think is priceless–only to discover it’s fool’s gold–and miss the diamond staring me in the face. An example? Sometimes I get so tired of my tears. Why do I have to cry through every story? Why am I a two-kleenex box speaker when I tell my testimony? Tears frequently make people uncomfortable, and I’d love to be able to share my heart without the waterworks. (Those people on the movies who look so cute when they cry? Not me. My skin gets all blotchy and my nose looks like Rudolph. *sigh*) But maybe God is saying, “No, I made those tears for you. I gave you a heart of compassion that just has to overflow.”

      But here I go writing another post in the comments 😉 Thanks for commenting. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts!

      1. You’re right. We often can’t discern the valuable from the useless. God does, and sometimes He turns the useless into the valuable. But we might not figure it out till later. Great example with the tears.

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