Monday, January 1, 2007

A New Year or Just Another Day?

During the course of yesterday's sermon, our pastor told the congregation that he had a secret to share with us. The secret was that tomorrow (i.e. today, January 1st) was nothing special. This secret, of course, was revealed during his message about what we should be reflecting on as the new year comes upon us. So, even though tomorrow, i.e. today, is nothing special, we should be reflecting on the fact that we, as believers, are of one spirit with God (I Corinthians 6:17) as we celebrate the new year. Nonetheless, the statement was clear: The incoming of the new year is nothing special.

Initially, I was in agreement with our pastor. I had been thinking the past few days that the entrance of the new year doesn't have any specific spiritual import. When we do things like make resolutions, we are simply trying to do things, or to stop doing things, that we should have stopped doing, or started doing, before now. Even our reflecting, if we are reflecting as Christians, is something that should be done much more frequently than once a year. I have thanked God countless times for the myriad of events and blessings that have occurred throughout this year — our 3rd anniversary, finishing language school, going back to America, the birth of our beautiful baby boy, a safe return to Ukraine — why does reflecting on them as this year ends and the next begins make it more appropriate or special?

But then, the new year arrived. My wife and I naturally reflected on the great things that 2006 brought us and how great a God we serve. And I began to think about what I could do differently this year to improve my moral and spiritual quality of life in the coming year. If I really believe that today is nothing special, why am I using it as a special time?

I don’t have a solution to this puzzle. I still ideally believe that today is nothing special but maybe that's just the thing. Ideally, today shouldn't be special. But I am far from ideal. It is because of my failure to adequately reflect on a regular basis and because of my failure to correct my bad attitudes and actions as they reveal themselves that I need a concrete event to mark change or a new beginning. I will try to adjust my schedule to allow more time for prayer and I will try to read through the Bible in a year, starting today. Ideally, I would have responded to my conscience and the convictions of the Holy Spirit to do these things 6 months ago, when I began to feel their weight. I didn't. So here I am, at the beginning of 2007, committing to act on those promptings. Is it because today is special? Yes and no. No, because it's just another day. January 1st is no more special than June 1st, if I would have responded then. But, yes, today is special because it is the day that I am choosing to act as I ought to act, choosing to strive toward the ideal, choosing to give myself more fully to God as I ought to have 6 months ago. In this way, the new year is quite special indeed. May the God Who promises to one day make the ideal a reality strengthen each of us this new year as we live for Him.

Happy 2007!

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