2016. A few weeks in and many of us are probably experiencing a new year that looks a lot like the old. It even feels a lot like the old: same fears, same habits, same pains, and same stresses. Crossing the calendar threshold has once again renewed very little. Instead, much of our lives have simply continued along the same trajectory.
Yet, something in our souls still longs for the new. Even if you didn't expect any difference this year, you might still find an inner yearning that wishes you were wrong.
The truth to remember in the midst of our disillusionment is that newness does exist. And it exists in the man who is God, Jesus Christ.
The single most debilitating aspect of the human experience is the repetition of failure. Despite our best efforts, we still criticize, condemn, and hurt our fellow person. We still give in to the same temptations. We still resist the voice of God in our lives.
This year, remember that there are new mercies available to us, no matter the length of our repeated sin. When we were brought into the family of God, nothing was hidden. No sin that we would ever commit was shielded from the mind of God. Yet, he still brought us in. And he never intends to return us.
My twenties have taught me that purpose rarely makes itself evident in my life. Our sense of purpose ebbs and flows on a daily basis. In Christ we find sure and secure purpose; and that purpose is found in the community of his Church. We are called to fully immerse ourselves in the Church and her mission. (Hebrews chapter 3 verses 12 and 15).
Our new purpose is found in turning from our old patterns of life and finding healing and true life in the Church. Here we find a movement that sets people free and liberates the oppressed (Luke chapter 4 verse 18) Here we grow in love (Ephesians chapter 4 verses 15-16) Here we find a home with God (John chapter 14 verse 23)
Amidst our caffeinated, strung out days of striving to be excellent; God has declared that through Christ we can find rest. In Christ you are loved and accepted (Romans chapter 5 verse 8). Perhaps this is the most welcome news to a weary soul. Rest is in sight. Rest is at hand. Enter into that new rest this year.
Otherwise, this will be where we live. We will strive for a job. We will strive to impress our bosses and coworkers. We will strive to live up to the expectations of our friends and family. And all of it will leave our souls empty and bear. Rest is at hand.
For Jesus himself said, "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew chapter 11 verses 28-29)
Dan Peterson lives near Chicago, Illinois, USA. He enjoys discovering old books, new places, and good coffees. His dream is to summit a mountain on every continent and have a pet pygmy marmoset.
Dan Peterson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html