Bon Ane (Happy New Year)
It’s interesting how the beginning of a new year is so symbolic to so many of us (including myself). We use phrases that don’t actually apply to real life like “clean slate,” “starting a new chapter,” and “let’s leave the past behind us” like any of those things are really possible. We take stock of our past year and decide if it was good or bad and regardless of what we think, we decide to “make 2017 the best year ever.” Some of us make resolutions for the new year and some of us have gotten so fed up with resolutions that we have made a resolution to never make another resolution. It’s almost like there is something magical about being awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve (I actually don’t remember the last time I made it to midnight) because at that moment anything is possible. The reality is that when the clock strikes January 1 into existence with each passing year there is nothing special about it. It is just a random starting point to a year (and if you are Haitian it is the day you celebrate your independence as a nation) that we all celebrate because it gives us something to celebrate and because someone a long time ago randomly assigned January as the first month of the year. But, at the same time, there is something exciting and freeing about the thought that we are starting fresh and that we are starting new.
Think back to some of your biggest accomplishments and you will get a feeling of what I am talking about. I remember graduating from Georgia Tech 16 years ago. I knew that I would be attending Seminary the next semester, so there was no real anxiety about what was coming next, but I will never forget the feeling. When I was getting dressed in my robe, walking across the stage, being handed a poster of the Tech Tower because the diplomas would be mailed later, and then as I drove away from campus for the last time as a student I felt…relieved. There was a little bit of happiness, I was excited about starting Seminary, and I was a little surprised that I actually made it but mostly there was relief. It was almost difficult to enjoy the moment because it was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders for a brief moment and it was hard to understand why relief rather than happiness was the overwhelming feeling of the day. The same type of feeling happened when I graduated seminary and it has happened each time I have left one job to go to another. Of course there is happiness and sadness, but the overriding thing I have felt is this seemingly huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I am not sure why that is because I was always leaving one situation to go to an equally (if not more so) challenging situation, but it is something that I vividly remember each time. New Year’s Day can bring with it a similar feeling. For those of us who have put on a few pounds over the past year we tell ourselves that starting today we will lose weight and we feel relieved by the thought. For those of us that want to be better spouses, parents, bosses, employees, etc. we tell ourselves that starting today people will start to see a new version of me and we are relieved at the idea that we can change. For those of us who have had terrible, overly stressful, or heartbreaking years we are relieved that it is over and a new year with new promises can begin. These things are not negative they are usually just unrealistic. It is unrealistic for us to think that a random day (January 1 in this case) could be life-changing for us just because we write the number “2017” at the end of the date rather than “2016.”
What is realistic, however, is even better than us trying to fix ourselves in one night. It is absolutely realistic for us to begin learning what it looks like to turn our lives over to GOD and His purposes. We cannot change our personality over night, we cannot predict the negative and/or positive events that will happen in the next hour much less the next year, and we certainly cannot expect to lose the 55 pounds that we need to lose by January 4. We can, on the other hand, begin to take steps toward living our lives for the one purpose that we were created for…TO BRING GLORY TO GOD! (Isaiah 43:7). If our lives are not focused on the Glory of GOD we are wasting them anyway so none of the other things matter. Here are some things we need to ask ourselves:
- Am I pointing my family to Christ? (Do I model Christ or school, sports, and activities to my children? Does my wife know she is loved?)
- Do I honor GOD with my career? (Do I work for GOD’s glory and use my paycheck to honor Him?)
- Does my schedule show my passion for GOD?
- Does my bank account show my love for Christ?
I could keep going, but you see my point. It is so easy for us to start talking about all of the things that we want to change about our lives starting today, but that misses the point. The real question we have to ask ourselves today and every single day of our lives is:
Does my life glorify GOD?
We were created for GOD’s glory and anything less than that for our lives is pointless and wasteful. Over the next few days we are going to review ATN’s past year, we are going to vision cast for 2017, and we are going to talk about how GOD has been and is working in our ministry. This is an important thing for all of us to do as individuals as well. To look back at all GOD has done for us, to look forward expecting GOD to work, and in everything seek to live our lives for the glory of GOD. This year, instead of trying to change everything about our own lives, why don’t we turn that job over to someone who actually has a chance to accomplish that goal.