I love the image of a blank slate, dusty from lessons learned, but empty and ready for the learning still to come. I always dread, however, the reflection upon the past year's achievements...or lack thereof.
From a Christian perspective, I am increasingly frustrated by the overuse of Isaiah 43:19 in reference to the New Year, as captured in the image below:
I'll let you in on a secret: God doesn't celebrate New Years. He doesn't wait for the calendar's permission to address you or your situation. How do I know? I read the verse below:
Imagine, if you will, what it's like to live in Heaven's time zone. The 2,018 calendar years marked off by mankind are little more than 2 days in Heaven. At the same time, every single day is like a thousand years to Him. If you are a parent, or have ever experienced a challenging day in the workplace, you understand the concept of the day that never seems to end.
So what about the days you realize you spent a whole year missing the mark? Resolutions weren't kept, goals weren't achieved, or perhaps it even seems you moved backward. What about those days? And the ones that seem to last forever, and for all the wrong reasons?
Sweet friend, God made provision for those days. Just because He lives outside of time as we know it doesn't mean He has no idea how this works: He designed the system! We break the system down into days, hours, minutes and seconds - but do we forget that seasons are part of the plan, too? Consider Acts 3:19, where we are told that times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord. (Some versions of the Bible translate the word "times" as "seasons" - I love the imagery that word paints!)
This year, as I look at the 365 days just passed and the 365 days ahead, the word for my New Year was nearly audible to me: Refresh. Last year was good, and I learned a lot from living by the word "defined." I believe I am on the right track, but I need a season of refeshing before I set new goals.
As someone who works with computers daily, perhaps I can draw an analogy from them. When you press the "Reset" button on a computer, all programs will shut down and you will need to restart each one. I would consider our cross-country move five years ago as a "reset." which required us to restart everything: our home, our jobs, and even our friendships.
Pressing the "Refresh" button on a computer does something completely different: it simply reloads the program you are working in without whatever factor was slowing you down. A season of refreshing, then, as applied to life, means you are doing good work, but you have some things to get rid of. This ties in beautifully with Hebrews 12:1, which instructs us to "throw off everything that hinders..."
For me, some things that hinder include anger, guilt, and low self-esteem. The low self-esteem is directly connected to my troubles with weight management, which I have begun to correct. The guilt and anger are tied to what seems like a whole other lifetime, but they directly influence my weight management when I eat based on emotion. So although I'm doing the work, I need to "refresh" and throw away the issues that slow down the finished work.
I will take this season to be made cool and clean. I will first be emptied of things that hinder, then filled with peace and purpose. I will practice seeing each day as fresh and every moment as re-fresh. Refresh. Re-fresh. Fresh, and fresh again. As many times as required, until the work is once again moving forward without hesitation.
I do not expect this season to be easy. I will put in the work because I am excited to see the results. I look forward to feeling lighter, both physically and emotionally. Because life is a gift, and the Giver is good.