The calendar has turned. The new year is here. There’s a bursting sense of possibility, looking ahead at all there is to come. We carry hope for change into 2023—recognizing the places of lack and failure, and desperately wanting to get it right.
We have a hardwired longing for newness. The evidence is all around us, feeding that dissatisfaction. Social media is a great example. It isn’t neutral or recreational, as it subtly employs shame and comparison on your feed through curated advertisements.
This time of year, we’re hit with the “New Year, New You” messaging that further caters our discontentment. But do you know who doesn’t need to be rebooted or reset with resolutions? The God of creation. He doesn’t shift or change (Mal. 3:6), is unmoved by the calendar reset, and his very nature is faithfulness (1 Cor. 1:9). He is holy (Lev. 11:44) and faithful to his Word, as his mission persists no matter the day’s circumstances. His consistency stands in contrast to us; yet, by his mercy, he’s invited us into a relationship through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
This is good news—the striving to achieve or prove ourselves can be laid down. We can receive, and therefore live, from the unchanging nature of God as we abide in him (John 15:4–5).One of the most provocative acts in our time is to cut back on work, especially when there’s a mounting list of tasks to accomplish. But the way we demonstrate our limitedness is to keep the Sabbath, and show in action who God is. Click To Tweet
Our renewal isn’t up to us. It’s also not reserved just for a particular time of year. According to 1 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (emphasis mine). We recognize our sin and need for rescue, and as we surrender, God receives us.
Sometimes, this baseline truth is lost for those in ministry, as familiarity can often dull the power of the gospel. There’s nothing wrong with setting intentions, rebooting rhythms, or making changes in one’s life, but exploring our motivation and seeking to live from the abundance of God’s love is crucial. What if your year was marked by faithfulness, rather than a list of resolutions?
Consider these three ideas that allow for grace and flexibility when your best-made plans are inevitably interrupted.
Attend to Your Inner Life for Community
In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.” The personal work of the soul before God in prayer, confession, and worship is essential when engaging with others. There’s a vulnerability in getting quiet and being alone before the Lord that reveals places in our souls needing attention. The Spirit faithfully convicts and loves us when we’ve created space to listen.
This inner soul work readies us to engage in community. When we’re attuned to the Spirit’s work in our lives, we’re humbly open to what he may be doing in others. Seek to create space in your days that propels you toward meaningful relationships with others.
Create Rhythms of Rest to Honor God
One of the most provocative acts in our time is to cut back on work, especially when there’s a mounting list of tasks to accomplish. But the way we demonstrate our limitedness is to keep the Sabbath, and show in action who God is. It’s an act of faith to cease labor. The practice takes us off the throne of our lives and reorders us under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6–7). In this new year, consider the invitation to embody God’s love through simple practices that bring light and life to all. Click To Tweet
Pastoring and ministering on the day which others are resting often presents a challenge in a ministry leader’s schedule of observing the Sabbath. Seek to shift your weeks and months to demonstrate what you preach and teach this year about rest—there is no greater witness than integrity in action.
Look for Beauty Amid the Mundane
Christians have the capacity for imagination as we ponder all that is to come for eternity. We have everyday moments threaded with God’s goodness, and a demonstration of his kindness when no one is looking. He is in our midst (Ps. 46:5) as the kingdom breaks into our world, calling us not to forget that in time all will be made new (Rev. 21:4). It’s a discipline to see and carry this holy imagination as you go about your days. Immersing yourself in the story of God through his Word while striving to see his presence every day will draw you deeper into all that is real and true in Christ.
There’s a lot of hype to make this the best year ever. It might be your best year, or in God’s providence you could find yourself in suffering and disappointment. No matter what happens in 2023, may you be assured of God’s faithfulness. In this new year, consider the invitation to embody God’s love through simple practices that bring light and life to all.