The Gift of New
How many people have you spoken to that have already expressed relief that the last year is nearly over? I know I’ve said it more than once, relieved to be drawing a line under what has been a really tough year for so many people, me included.
What is it about the ticking over of a clock, the checking off of a calendar that makes us feel like there is new potential? Why should ‘next’ and ‘new’ be easier than ‘now’? But somehow, we put hope in it. The same way we tell ourselves that after a nap, the world will feel like a better place. And it usually does.
I’ve been intrigued for years by sleep – beyond why a nap just feels so good – and especially intriguing as scientists studying it cannot discern any major usefulness to being unconscious, vulnerable even, for such large chunks of each day.
And yet, we all need sleep.
A lack of sleep has the same effect as drinking alcohol, dulling response times and reactions and can even be used as a form of torture. The most recent studies liken sleep to cleaning house – ‘you can either have a house party (thinking and being busy), or you can ‘clean the house’.
Sleep draws a line under the day. It cleans the brain of things you don’t need to hold onto – and tidies the ones you need into their relevant categories… not only that, but with each day you have the ability to grow new neural pathways enabling you to create better thought habits when you wake – sleep is good stuff!!
Imagine dreaming of big things again, things big enough that you can’t do them in your own strength, things that would be awesome in themselves, and then asking God to go above and beyond even in those things too.
For me, a new year is something like that, the scaled-up start of a new day. If God says that ‘His mercies are new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:23), imagine the new mercies he has in store for us for a whole new year. Imagine if you were to let him move in every part of your life and see His will worked out in ways ‘greater than you can ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20).
Imagine dreaming of big things again, things big enough that you can’t do them in your own strength, things that would be awesome in themselves, and then asking God to go above and beyond even in those things too. Dreaming a dream, having hope in someone greater than ourselves and our circumstances, that is what can give us real hope going into a new year.
As we draw a line under the year that has gone, I’m inspired by a Christmas card from some dear friends in South Wales – they looked back on a year that has stretched them unimaginably, and they shared their highlights. Not the highlights they imagined for this year, but the opportunities they chose to grab hold of, the thankful, joyful perspective they purposefully clung to.
As this year draws to a close, as we thank God for his new mercies and new opportunities going into the new year, let’s thank him for the moments we can treasure from this year. Let’s not discount a year that has grown a thankfulness in us for small liberties and family moments.
Let’s take thankfulness with us from this year into the next. Let’s take hold of His promise of new mercies every day to dream bigger dreams, pray bolder prayers and believe that our great God can surpass them all!