They are New Year cliches, the greeting card sentiments about our wishes and dreams. You know them. There's a new chapter, page, leaf, day, beginning, or horizon. It's the stuff of a clean slate, a fresh start, turning the corner, raising the bar, resonating with the culture, manning up, putting on big boy pants or big girl panties, rembering it's a marathon and not a sprint, knowing that these things have come to pass and not to stay, and that he won't put on us more than we can bear.
Well, New Year's may be the first day of the rest of your life, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Still, if we play our cards right we'll discover that the grass really is greener over there in the New Year and we'll carpe diem because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Knowing that anything is possible, we'll be careful what we wish for, and not cast our pearls before swine. We'll climb the highest mountain and cross the widest sea searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Since every cloud has a silver lining we'll follow our dreams down the yellow brick road to discover the new normal he's reserved for me somewhere over the river and through the woods.
Get a life! On January 2 most of us will return to the same job, the same car pool, the routine, brown bag lunch, commute, checking account, chores, dirty laundry, and bedroom-treadmill-clothes hanger that defined us on December 31 back in the 2014 version of life. Sound a little cynical? Not really. There are no cynics here. But, there is a biblical worldview that knows newness is more than skin deep, beyond what our shallow words and flimsy sentiment can actually bring. To use another cliche, the heart of the matter is actually a matter of the heart. And, it's where every New Year celebration becomes real, there in the chambers of the heart. It's the sign that announces the beginning point for each of us: "YOU ARE HERE". It's posted in my heart. And yours. It's where real newness begins.
It was a promise made by God's prophet Ezekiel. Through him God said, "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26). This promise was connected to a previous declaration, "Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 18:31). It was a recurring theme in the New Testament too, especially in the writings of Paul. He commeded the Romans because "...you have obeyed from the heart..." (Romans 6:17), and instructed the Ephesians to "...do God's will from your heart" (Ephesians 6:6). Jesus also said, "A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart" (Luke 6:45). And, there are so many others. Genuine newness starts here.
Thursday will bring us a new year, 2015. There may be a clean calendar, a few new elements here and there, and more than enough good cheer to bring a smile. When the rigors rub the polish off of some of the newness, we'll need that new thing He is doing in our lives every moment of every day to maintain what is needed to deal with the tough things of these times. Our T-shirts and coffee mugs and stock phrases can give us amomentary boost, maybe start a conversation or two, and no doubt label us as cool. But, the real deal is down deep. It's the heart. And we all start right here.
So, happy new thing!!