I love the beginning of a new year. To be more specific, I love the thought of newness. The idea of a clean page of paper, a new beginning, the opportunity to start over creates (or at least rekindles) great hope. The older I get, the more that I appreciate the rhythms and seasons of life. As the Preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes, for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven (say that out loud without the words, “turn, turn, turn” running through your mind – I dare you). People make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but that isn’t what gives me hope. Hope isn’t a time or a season for me. It is a Person. God gives times and reasons and is the Author of the rhythms of life. He has many purposes, but for you and I He has one great purpose that the new year reminds me about. He makes us new. New is good, isn’t it? We love receiving new things. Watching my boys at Christmas demonstrates the joy of receiving something new in technicolor and stereo.
Maybe as we get older we lose a bit of that ability to receive something new with such abandon. But we don’t have to. That may just be my greatest aspiration for this new year. To recover the capacity to receive God’s newness with greater joy and abandon. Remember, in Christ we are a new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17). Not just our lives, but all of creation and history consumate in the newness of God. Among the last words in all of Scripture God declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Do you want that for yourself this year? I know that I do. It may just be that the key to experiencing this renewal is embracing the repetition of times and seasons in our lives that we take for granted. God placed the capacity to receive within each of us, but all too often we let it become jaded and atrophied. We don’t celebrate the newness that already surrounds us. Each day, each breath, each smile from people that we love, each sunrise or raindrop is a gift, something new. In a strange way, patience and novelty work hand in hand, as we experience the same things over and over, we are actually experiencing something new.
G.K. Chesterton, unsurpisingly, expressed something of the heart and character of God as the Great Renewer in a quote that I certainly can’t improve upon.
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I want to experience more of the newness of God in my life and I think that the path to that involves the monotony of acknowledging and embracing the ultimate monotony of human experience, the presence of God. If I tune my heart (or allow my heart to be tuned) to recognize His presence in the monotony of every moment, then it and I become new. This really is what meditation is all about. It is choosing to think deeply about God’s presence inhabiting this moment in my life. Today, this year, let us choose it more often.