New Year, New Freedom! And No Groundhog!

Welcome to January! This month not only brings the dawn of a new year, but also a new decade. Undoubtedly, this timestamp gives many of us pause, prompting us to reflect on the past and and hope for the future. If you’re like millions of others, you’ve also made some commitments to yourself, your health and your most important priorities. Some bad habits will be dropped like a hot potato, and new practices will begin in an attempt to forge new pathways toward greater physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The team here at Good Word Project agreed it was the ideal time to explore the word “NEW” as we dive into the fresh waters of these new beginnings.

This reminds me of an old Bill Murray movie. 

“Groundhog Day” follows Bill Murray’s character, a television weatherman named Phill Connors, as he experiences the same day over and over again. Each morning, he wakes up only to find that time has not advanced to the next day as it should. Instead, he has to keep re-living the same day…until he gets it right. As the movie progresses, we see his angry, frustrated character transform. He makes shifts from selfish motives to more thoughtful considerations, valuing time with best efforts instead of careless motivations and learning the value of relationship over self-idolization and isolation. He keeps getting a new chance – again and again – to reflect, learn and make the most of the day (and his life.)

This reminds me of God…although His approach is different.

He is so gracious to us as we are ( s l o w l y ) transformed into His likeness. Each day as we try again and again, He doesn’t curse us with continual do-overs and an expectation of perfection. Instead, He begins each day offering us new mercies.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

(Lamentations 3:22-23)

We are greeted with warmth, understanding and grace as each new day begins. It’s a fresh start and a new beginning with new hope. We need not be angry and frustrated, because we are loved unconditionally, regardless of what we do and how well we do it.

This is such a comforting thought as we attempt to improve ourselves with our new resolutions and habits. We can begin each day with the knowledge that we are already loved. We are already enough. We are already worthy before we do anything. We are all of these things, because as believers, we are children of God (Galatians 3:26). This can energize us and compel us to fuller lives, versus stressing out to become “something.” God’s love for us can propel us forward. We are His family, and our Father gives us unmatched guidance, support and empowerment.

His love for us is great, indeed.

You see, not only is each day new, filled will new mercies, but we must remember that we, too, have been made new in Christ (Ephesians 5:17). Our “old self,” our sins and mistakes of the past, as well as the shame we may feel from poor choices…they are all covered by the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus died and was resurrected, believers are also given the gift of new life in Christ (Romans 8:10-11)— one marked by forgiveness and full restoration. Not only are we made new, we are made whole and complete (Colossians 2:10). We are made so by the the gift of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell with our own spirit the moment we profess faith (Ephesians 1:13).

This is the part of salvation that is often overlooked or not as talked about as much as the promise of residing with God for all eternity in heaven. People tend to want to know where they will “end up” forever, but they forget that the promises of salvation begin at the very moment of faith. Simply put, God comes to us immediately in the form of the Holy Spirit, and the same power that made and rules over all of creation lives in us!! The Holy Spirit teaches, guides, convicts, equips, comforts and empowers us from that point forward (John 14:16-18). The gifts of salvation in this life are down right incredible! I can only imagine how awesome heaven will be one day, but it makes my heart soar today, knowing God is with me NOW and will never ever leave me (Joshua 1:5). Now, that is some power to step into for the new year!!

As we look ahead with hope toward a new and improved version of ourselves, we can do so with the freedom and grace that comes from a relationship with Christ. We don’t have to dread the same bad day on repeat, nor do we have to burden ourselves with perfectionism. Instead, I challenge us all to make listening to the Holy Spirit one of our new habits this year. His voice will reassure us and lead us towards the promises of God… and closer to our heart’s fulfillment. Listen. Each day. Each NEW day for a NEW YOU!

Lord, God, thank You for new beginnings and new freedom in You. Help us this new year, not to add to our list of to-dos, but instead, to be still. Help us to hear Your voice in the quiet, and lead us closer to You and Your will for our lives. May we see the fruits of intimacy with You, and may it lead us to new joys we’ve never known. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

By the way, in case you were wondering about my resolution for the year…it’s simple: trust. Well, let me re-phrase. It’s a simple one-word resolution, but doing it is much harder, especially with two teenage kids who are eager to gain more and more independence. My goal is to increasingly trust the Lord as I let slowly let go of control. God’s got them, and I have to trust Him and the foundation of faith, values and family that we have laid over the years. Feel free to hold me accountable and ask how I’m doing with this throughout the year!

{If you like this blog post, will you please consider sharing it on social media and subscribing for more? We promise never to clutter your inbox, but only to fill it with a good word. There are three more coming this month to continue our exploration of the word, “new!”}

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