If we want a fresh start and the ability to greet the unexpected turns of the year ahead with trusting hope, what we need is not more resolutions, but more grace.
by Nancy Taylor, author of God’s Call to a Deeper Life
This Christmas didn’t turn out like I had expected. As a freelance writer, I have a fair amount of control over my schedule, and I had everything planned so I would finish my work a week before Christmas Day. This would leave plenty of time for baking, last-minute shopping, and class parties. I would complete all my tasks and have time left over to contemplate the joy of the season.
But then I got sick, and then I got sicker; and when all was said and done, I had spent six full days in bed. The laundry had piled up, the kids had been subsisting on whatever was left in the pantry, and my work had not gotten done. It’s hard to recover from that kind of falling behind anytime, but especially in the weeks before Christmas.
So this December as I contemplate the year’s end, I feel, even more than usual, like I am limping toward the finish line. I’m feeling more tired than inspired. Maybe you can relate. The unexpected things that blindsided you this year may have been catastrophic and life-changing, making my little troubles pale in comparison. Perhaps your world was rocked by a scary diagnosis or the loss of a loved one, a livelihood, or a dream. My guess is that no matter what this past year has been for you, there have been parts of it that didn’t turn out like you expected. Maybe it was better, but perhaps it was worse or just different.
As the page turns on a new year, we yearn for a new beginning—especially if things haven’t been going according to our dreams and expectations. Perhaps you long for a second chance. A new job. A fresh start in a relationship that has grown strained. Better choices, either for yourself or those you love. A new perspective or renewed health.
The good news is that God is all about new beginnings.
For I am about to do something new.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
New beginnings are all about God’s grace. He is the one who gives us a fresh start to begin again, a clean slate, and newness of life. He is the one who casts away our sin as far as the east is from the west and chooses to remember it no more. And he is the one who empowers us to follow through on the new beginnings we need in life.
If we want a new beginning, we can find it through the grace God so freely gives—his unbounded forgiveness, the undeserved kindness he shows us each day in a thousand different gifts, the wonder of the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, and the promise of a glorious future with him. If we want a fresh start and the ability to greet the unexpected turns of the year ahead with trusting hope, what we need is not more resolutions, but more grace. More of Jesus.
This year, what if we skip the new year’s resolutions and instead list new year’s graces?
• Grace says the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Each day, each moment, I can count on the fact that he loves me and he is for me.
• Grace says that the unexpected things in life are all in God’s sovereign plan, and his plan is for my good. I can trust him even when things don’t go according to my plan.
• Grace says I can celebrate progress even if I never reach perfection.
• Grace says I can fully trust God’s promises and character, believing that he offers new mercies without fail and without limit.
• Grace says I can forgive myself for my failures and believe that with God’s help I can do better next time.
• Grace says the present is a new beginning.
• Grace says I can forgive those around me because I am forgiven.
• Grace says that I will hope for a new beginning for those I love—and even those I find difficult to love.
• Grace says that the difficulties in my life are tools in God’s hand to help me trust him more and become who he wants me to be.
• Grace says God reveals his love to me every day in a million different ways, if I will just look for it.
The question is, do we believe that God’s grace is for us? Do we have hope that things can change—that people can change, including ourselves? At its heart, this is a question of whether or not we take God at his word. He says that we can have a fresh start no matter what, and continuing to muddle around in the muck of our past failures is a rejection of his grace.
God is offering you a new beginning today. Will you accept his grace? Are you ready to begin the year with a fresh perspective on God’s goodness?
God’s Call to a Deeper Life by Nancy Taylor
God is calling to your heart from every page of His Word. Can you hear His voice? Or does it sometimes feel like you’ve read it all before, and the words enter your mind but fail to permeate your soul?
Get ready to experience Scripture in an entirely new way through these 366 devotions. Open your heart to God’s truth in a way that is clear, personal, and relevant to your life. Let these devotions bridge the gap between the eternal, unchanging words written in the Bible and your heart’s desire to connect with the One who cares most deeply for you.