We are several days into the New Year and things are off to a fast start. Jill and her family were here from Oklahoma during Christmas – everyone was under the weather, but things got back to normal as we approached New Year’s Eve. Generally, Janet and I watch some TV program that highlights celebrations around the world, such as Dick Clarks’ New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, but this New Year’s Eve was a little different. With all the sickness and being so tired, I’m afraid that we didn’t make it staying awake to usher in 2015.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t think about history, though. You know, when I was growing up, my brothers and I could only have soft drinks one evening a year – that’s right, it was on New Year’s Eve. Other than that one time per year, Mom and Dad made sure we drank water or milk. With soft drinks so popular now, it’s difficult to believe that’s the way it was – but it’s the truth! And another little known fact – Janet’s folks and my parents were best friends and each year they would alternate houses for the celebration to ring in the new year. Mom was an excellent cook and each time the event was at our home, there was quite a meal and there was always some tremendous dessert to try. Janet’s parents were always fun to be around and all three of us boys really knew them well.
But to be sure, the highlight was the ability to have a soft drink during the party. Then, my brothers and I would head upstairs while the adults rang in the new year. Boy, I can’t even begin to count the number of years that our two families were together on Dec. 31st. And when Dad died, Janet and I used to spend New Year’s Eve with her parents – in fact, Janet and I were talking about that on Dec. 31st this past week. We did dinner trains, different restaurants, high profile dinners and easy stay at home affairs – all with her parents.
We never went away for the celebration because our daughter, Jill, was born on January 1st and she never liked the fact that we would not be around for her special day. On top of that, she hated it when we took down the Christmas decorations on January 1st, so we stopped doing that as well, opting to have things put away by her birthday. As I sit here writing, the memories are flooding back to me.
And remember how we all had grand plans for the new year? Maybe it was weight loss, or better grades, or exercise or some other News Year’s resolution that faded into the background by the end of January. I guess that is why we see so many commercials for home gyms and health club memberships this time of year. In fact, recently I saw a statistic that said half of all athletic equipment sold for the new year is only used once before it starts to collect dust and is mothballed in perpetuity.
As a teenager, I used to vow to read the Bible cover to cover starting January 1st. I love Genesis 1:1 – it’s my favorite verse – but I always got bogged down in Exodus or Leviticus and never completed the task of reading the entire Scripture until I was much older. I did, however, really get to know Genesis 1:1 and I’m sure that the anticipation of reading the entire Bible, starting with that verse, contributed to my love of the words, “In the beginning…”
If I had been able to complete the entire Bible, I would have known at an early age that God is a God of grace and mercy. And in Revelation we are told that God will make everything new. That means that we get a do-over, thanks to the grace of God. And most of us tend to re-dedicate our efforts to developing better habits each January 1st. Yes, it’s true that sometimes we get bogged down and fall short of our goals, but at least we have the chance to try again and do it better next time. That’s part of the excitement of the New Year!
The verse for this evening is from Revelation 21:5 , “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” My encouragement, as we start 2015, is that God is giving each of us a chance to do a better job this year than we might have done in 2014. That means that we can grow closer to Him, be better parents and family members – and even better members of our communities. My prayer is that as we wind down the holidays and start to focus on 2015, we will each spend a little time asking God what He wants for us to accomplish this year. There’s still time – after all, the year is less than 96 hours old… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…