Here we are, a month into a brand new year and full disclosure, I don’t have much to show for it. I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions and even my husband’s tongue in cheek questions regarding my hopes and dreams for the New Year can frazzle me. They cause me to feel pressured to set goals and define purposes that I don’t necessarily like to specifically name. I’m not saying that I approach life without purpose or that I float through the day without agendas – I have 4 kids, so my life can at times feel like one huge, exhausting calendar flow chart. My main goal for the day when they were little was to keep them alive through feeding and protection and I guess even now that three of them are teens with immature brains and bodies growing inches overnight, it remains much the same.
But I think I’ve come to the realization that my ultimate purpose is to glorify God in all that I do, and therefore, I need to have room in my flow chart to submit to His agenda for the day and that whatever I see as an interruption to my plans or goals, might just be THE VERY thing that God had actually purposed for my day. It’s very humbling and such grace when God gives hopes and dreams and gifts to His children that are actually meant to be for our good and His glory. In other words, my hopes and dreams are not meant to be as much for me as for Him!
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:12-17 ESV
Back to my disclosure… it’s the end of January and I don’t have much to show for it because Christmas is still set up here in my home. Not because I love cozy Christmas decor (which I do), but because life brought a death just after the New Year was rung in and my plans to dismantle it have been waylaid. It doesn’t look like January and it still looks like Christmas and I am reminded that Christmas truth is for all year long and how easy it is to have the appearance of Christmas joy, while being distracted from the spiritual reality of this in the “putting one foot in front of the other” to meet the demands of the bustling January calendar. And yet, here in the bustle, Christmas lives on just as Emmanuel – God with us – remains here in His children by His Holy Spirit. These decorations are reminding me of the Lord’s presence in the griefs of this broken, bustling world.
This New Year – a time of new beginnings – actually began with an ending… the death of my father-in-law. A time that often has us looking ahead, has my family looking behind, remembering and grieving. I imagine we aren’t the only ones. Jesus entered our grievous state of brokenness by being born, to live and die, overcoming sin and its consequential death. He invites us on this basis to receive the gift of His redemptive and restorative work here on earth as well as the gift of His presence – the ultimate Christmas present.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”
John 16: 33 ESV
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 ESV
This January, I’m reminded that death is often the place where new things begin. The death of a season (both literally and figuratively) ushers in a new one. Winter must pass before spring is birthed. The seed must die in order for the tree to grow and bear fruit. The old year passes to ring in the new, old habits must die to replace with the new and improved. And so… our spiritual lives in Christ can be understood in the death of the former self (the self before receiving Christ which is opposed to Him and corrupt through ignorance or hardness of heart) and being born again (spiritual birth) in Christ. We are offered HIS Spirit to do the actual work of living out the life of Christ in and through us!
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you earned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:18-24 ESV
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
This January I am reminded that while I participate in the process, it is not up to me to become the new and improved version of myself – praise the Lord! It is HE who began this good work in me to bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). While we wait as the children of God, for the fullness of His restoration with the establishment of His heavenly Kingdom, we live with hope. Hope that He has overcome, hope that in Him, we too overcome. Hope that He is making all things new including us, including me. Hope that His perfect purposes will be accomplished.
This January, as I finish (okay start) packing away the Christmas decorations, I will remember that in Christ who came, I am an overcomer of the burdens and bustle of this life as well as an overcomer of my old self. I will remember that He is God and there is none like Him. Thank you Lord for all the memories.