Fitting the Same Old Things into a Brand New Year

I stumbled all the way through that long December month like a blind man just trying to find his way home. Groping, searching, and staggering, each December day forced me further along until finally, I limped into January with all the bumps and bruises that the previous year inflicted.

With one quick flip of a calendar page, January 1 turns us to a new year and it's time to begin yet again.

Behind me, the months past are reduced to nothing more than history, memories, and a few well-learned lessons.  Up ahead, a new year beckons me onward. I take a deep breath in and hold it for several seconds as I prepare to go under once more.  I get tired just thinking about it. I don't feel ready to begin again.

How do you start a new year when you still haven't recovered from the last?

How do you begin anew when you're still the exact same person that the last year left behind?

I can't speak for you, but nothing extraordinary happened for me between 11:59 pm on December 31st, 2017 and 12:00 am on January 1st, 2018 to make me think I could withstand this new year better than the last. I didn't grow any new defenses, learn any necessary skills, or become a new and improved version of myself in that one minute's worth of time. Those 60 seconds came and went and left everything exactly the same. All the same old stuff in a brand spankin' new year. And the truth is, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to navigate the same old things this whole new year.

That's the place I find myself in this first week of January - that vulnerable place of having to begin again when the last time around left you a little busted up.  By no means without hope, but weary from the journey nonetheless.

In this condition I sat down early in the morning on January 1st to seek His face and lean into His will for this coming year. Understanding that my current state was no surprise to Him I earnestly inquired, "What do you want for me this year, Lord? What do you want from me this year?"

And like a blade of light piercing through all those dark shadows and hidden places in my heart, He spoke, "For you to know me better".

That was it.

No lofty expectations. No long lists of do's and don'ts. No weighty requirements.

Encouragement for beginning again when the last time around left you a little busted up...

Just lean in. Draw close. Come near.

Even in my busted-up state - with all my pride, and disappointments, and misplaced hopes - He still wants me to come even closer.  

Oh, Jesus, your sweet mercies never cease to amaze me. They insist and they persist and they refuse to desist from pursuing the one who straggles behind.

So I opened the book he's been calling me toward for the last several weeks - the book of John.  The first book of the Bible that I ever read.  I still remember my brother telling me all those years ago, "This book will teach you everything you need to know about Jesus."  I had been reluctant to return here again, thinking that surely, in all the time I've spent studying His word in the years since I had first opened that book, I had progressed past that first book I ever read.  But then again, I guess we never grow past the place of needing to know more about Jesus.  So I begin again...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

God wants to say something to me through His Word, so I return to that very first book

He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Lord wants me to understand more about who He is, so I tune my ear to hear His Word

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Lord reminds me of His presence amidst the dark places in my life. The Lord reminds me that

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

He reiterates in my heart the truth I know but lose sight of in this dreary January landscape

the darkness has not overcome it

the darkness has not overcome it

the darkness has not overcome it

Yeah, so maybe this last year was tough on this middle-aged mama. There were twists and turns I didn't expect. I faltered and fell on more than one occasion.  I lost hold of some things that I didn't want to lose.  I entered this new year with some scrapes and bruises that will take some time to heal - but - the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I may have limped into this new year on nothing more than a wing and a prayer, but he beckons me on with His simple request, "know me better".  

Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  

I guess new years aren't just for fresh, shiny starts, but for the busted-up and beat-down who seek to continue on, to trudge past, to push onward toward Him.  Maybe that's what this new year is all about.  The same old me, drawing closer to Him.


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