Happy New Year!

It happens every January....New Year's Day comes in with a magical flurry of confetti, champagne and fireworks!  We make a list of things we want to change or do or become.

There's just something about the first day of the first month of a new year that inspires us to change or do something hopeful!  It's like a freshly washed chalkboard that no one has marked on yet....
it can be anything you want it to be and say whatever you want to write.

My "list" almost always looks like this:

  • Get in shape.
  • Spend more time studying the Bible.
  • Control my tongue and attitude.
  • Be kind and cherish others.

Let me be clear...I don't call these  "resolutions" because by the end of the year, they are usually not "resolved" and wind back up on my next list.   Really?
It gets frustrating.  You'd think after all these years some of these items could be retired!

Maybe the problem is not the list.   Maybe it's the chalk.

It would make sense that to get a new result, you would not only have to use a clean slate, but new chalk.  But I'm a broken person.  I'm dirty.  I'm chipped. and I don't look like, think like, or reason like I did when I was first out of the box.  So how can I expect a different outcome when using the same tools?

Hold on a minute....have you ever tried to write on a chalkboard with a brand new piece of chalk?  Oh, it looks perfect and feels nice and slick in your fingers, but it's doesn't write very well.  The line is thin and harsh and skips.  You have to scrub it around on the board to dull the edge before you can make a good mark.

And new chalk is very screechy, and it doesn't really know what it's talking about.

Brand new is not necessarily better.  Sooner than later, those long slick sticks snap. Then you can't tell the difference anymore between the old and the new.

So what's the point of our New Year's lists?  True, it's a great feeling to turn a new page, to write on a fresh board, to erase all of the negative things from the past and have a clean slate.
But I'm still the same person  and no matter how much I want to be brand new chalk....I'm cracked and uneven.

So now what?  Give up self-improvement lists? Doubtful.  Maybe it's changing how you look at your edges.  I mean, you can see them as flaws or you can see them as wisdom.  You can call them "used parts" or "earned income."

With every New Year you become more and more valuable.  You build up experience and joy and memories that are uniquely yours.  You are history!!  You don't need to start completely over...you just build  new layers!  Draw new pictures for your portfolio!  Rejoice in who you are and focus instead on the joy of writing on the chalkboard!

You know, my spiritual life is like that, too. I am constantly taking inventory of my shortcomings and wishing I could be brand-new-out-of-the-box again.  Year after year I beat myself up for falling short of His Glory and try to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Why?  Wasn't the slate already washed clean by Jesus at the cross?  Doesn't God see us as He sees Jesus?  We are His redeemed children.  Yes, we sin and we screw things up every year. YES, we are constantly failing and constantly repenting and trying to do "better" to please Him.

We like to make lists because then WE are in control.  But we aren't and we can't.  We don't need to write a new story on a board every year because we are ALREADY and ALWAYS forgiven.  It never depends on conquering the list.

It never depends on the chalk.

It's a story that is already written.  It's a promise that is already kept.  Jesus Christ saved us.  We are baptized into Christ and born again.  And every year of our lives are a refining process until He calls us home.

But fear not, for God has already taken control.  My hope is not in what I accomplish, but in Him who goes on the journey with me.

Happy New Year!


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