Its cloudy today but so bright I wore sun glasses to go out and shovel snow. On top of all the snow and ice from the past two weeks we got another six inches between 6 and noon today. The fresh snow makes everything look clean and bright.
But it’s a false clean. I remember what it looked like yesterday: muddy, leaves mixed with ice, trash that blew over from the neighbor, a soda can someone threw from a passing car that’s now stuck in ice – not a pretty sight. The new snow is like a blanket thrown over an otherwise threadbare and stained couch. It looks better but it doesn’t change what’s underneath.
I’ve been watching the news in between shoveling, working on this email, and phone calls – mostly out of interest in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. The newscasters can’t stay on the depressing assassination all the time and find themselves talking about New Years. They refer to it as, “turning the corner,” or “getting a clean slate,” or even “a chance to start over.” Is that the same as a fresh layer of snow?
Please don’t misunderstand. The New Year is a wonderful time for evaluation, reflection, and making plans for the coming year. Resolutions are not bad and setting goals is helpful. However, lets keep a couple of important truths in mind as we look forward to 2008.
1 – God is the only one who can give us a “clean slate.” 1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” Take advantage of God’s offer through Jesus Christ to remove your sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps 103:12). Nothing you could ever do would make God love you less. He is the God of second chances.
2 – Be careful to bathe the process of making plans and setting goals in prayer and truth. Let’s not be guilty of asking God to bless our plans! It takes significant time in the Word and in prayer and lots of silence to listen to Him in order to avoid what happened to David in 2 Samuel 7. But just in case, find a Nathan in your life who will be brave enough to tell you if you’re pursing selfish goals.
We run the risk of allowing a new year and a fresh snowfall to lead us into sentimentality and false security. Instead we must practice the spiritual disciplines in order to be holy.
May I suggest a theme for 2008?
“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. 16 God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” You call out to God for help and he helps – he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.” 1 Peter 1:13-17 The Message