Living New in the New Year
Good morning again from Managua, Nicaragua!
As I considered what to right about this morning, the opportunity a new year brings seemed to be the most appropriate topic. In some ways, the changing of a year is strikes me as somewhat strange. One day it is the end of 2012 and the next it is the beginning of 2013. With the exception of the celebrations we have to “bring in the New Year” there is almost nothing else noticeably different about the clock striking midnight on January 1st. At the same time, there is something mysterious and exciting about ringing in the New Year. The change from one year to the next seems to bring new opportunity, or at the least motivation to look for it, and a blank slate to some degree. To say it another way, there is a chance to learn from the old as we strive for the new. Despite the sameness of the clock moving from 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM, there is something very different about entering a new year.
The changing of the years was like none other for more this year. Moving from 2012 to 2013 effectively meant beginning my second year of life in Nicaragua. Because much of our work here is helping people see the opportunity for a new life, both spiritually and tangibly, this aspect of the New Year was more meaningful to me in 2013. I had a neat chance to talk to the teenagers at El Canyon about the new opportunity that comes with a new year on Monday night at our weekly devotional. To get everyone on the same page, I brought one of my old, rather worn out (possibly smelly) running shoes and one of my new, clean shoes that looks virtually the same with the exception of the wear and tear. I asked the kids to tell me what was different about the two shoes and, being the astute young people they are, they said one is old and one is new. I then had them read the account in the Bible in John chapter 4 of Jesus’ interaction with a Samaritan woman at a well. If you are not familiar with the story, Jesus is alone at the well when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. A conversation then begins between the two about water, thirst, her life and living water that leads to new life. In reading through the conversation, we find out that the Samaritan woman had been searching for life in places that would never provide it. In fact, the account says she had been married five times and was now moving on to number six. You can imagine, with every new marriage she more than likely saw an opportunity for a new beginning. In the end, however, they apparently all ended the same way and never brought the fulfillment and life for which she was looking. Meeting her where she was at, Jesus tells her there is something that can provide that for which she is searching. “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life'” (John 4:13-14 NIV 1984). Jesus tells her the things of this world are never going to provide what you truly need, no matter how great they are. He tells her the life she is looking for can only be found through him, Jesus the Messiah.
In many ways, Jesus was offering her an opportunity for a new life. I explained to the young people at El Canyon that I believe the New Year brings the same opportunity for us. In moving from the old year to the New Year, we have a chance to choose to find life in a relationship with Christ. We have a chance to find fulfillment in the only place that was meant to bring it. We also have a chance to choose to live differently. In 2013, we can decide to believe there is a hope for the future and live in such a way that it is true. Every day we have the chance to pick the new or the old, the momentary satisfaction or the life-long joy. The choice is ours and is more often than not dictated by our perspective on the future. This year, we each have the incredible opportunity to begin living into the plan God has for our lives. I believe God is just waiting for us to say yes.
As you consider what 2013 will hold for your life, I would ask you to think about whether this might be the year that you begin living like that is true. The choice is yours.
– James Belt