Christmas was very enjoyable this year. I wasn’t sure if it would be. It was the first time since I have been a father that Lisa and I did not have any of our children with us on Christmas morning. In a “perfect Christmas storm,” they were all spending the holiday with their in-laws. Ultimately, Lisa and I got creative and invited ourselves over for a Christmas Eve sleepover at my parents’ house. They were delighted (or at least they pretended to be!) to have their oldest son and his wife to open presents with on Christmas morning. It was a special time. I’m really glad we did it. The truth is, I have spent many Christmas mornings over the years at my parents’ home. It was like old times.
But what I’m really looking forward to is next Christmas. That’s because, in case you have not read anything I have written in the last six months, I’ll have three grandsons. We are expecting the arrival of our first three grandchildren by the end of February. It’s going to change everything! It will be a brand new experience for Lisa and me. Needless to say, we’re excited. Not that there was anything wrong with what we experienced in the past. We’ve had some really awesome Christmases over the years. It’s just that, we’re ready for something new. I suspect that, after years of all-adult Christmas mornings, having three grandchildren eagerly opening presents and experiencing the wonder of Christmas will completely reinvigorate our holidays! Life can be like that. Even experiences that are good sometimes need a makeover.
One of the amazing qualities of Christianity is that it holds the constant expectation and promise of newness. It believes something new could occur at any time. Not all religions are like that. If you are born into a particular caste in India, you have no hope of life becoming different regardless of how long you live. In many religions, God predetermines everything so you have no hope of improving your situation. For that matter, many atheists assume that life follows its natural course and there is no divine being to intervene or adjust the circumstances of life. What will be will be.
God is the author of fresh, new beginnings. He has launched countless spring times. Listen to what He said to a weary, defeated people: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19). God delights in doing something new!
One of the primary reasons the Scribes and Pharisees hated Jesus so much is because He took a fresh look at how people could relate to their heavenly Father. Jesus was never stuck in doing things the same way, every time.
This brings us to 2015. Is it possible for you to be fully following and obeying Christ and not to expect that something in your life will be new and different this year? This doesn’t mean you won’t be called upon to faithfully persevere with what God has already called you to do, such as being a good spouse, parent, or church member. But it does mean that you are alert to the exciting, new dimension God wants to add to those roles.
You may have been married for thirty years. Great! Are you in a rut? Does God want to add a fresh hobby, or trip, or area of joint ministry with your spouse that adds a fresh new dimension to your marriage? You may be a parent. Wonderful! Does God want to guide you to do something with your children you have never done before? Perhaps take them with you on a mission trip or to tour the Holy Land? You might establish a book club or institute a special prayer time or a regular lunch date. God has countless ways to refresh and invigorate your family, if you are open to it.
What about in your walk with God? Does God want to do something new in 2015? Perhaps you purchase a Bible in a translation you have not used before so the familiar verses have a fresh sound to them. Maybe you make use of a different journal this year to record your pilgrimage with God. Maybe you try something creative, like having prayer times in a park or on a hike. Maybe you take a day-long or weekend-long retreat with nothing but your Bible and journal. You could enroll in a seminary class to enrich your understanding of the Bible or theology. You might try a new scripture memorization plan. Or, you might identify twelve classic Christian books and make a plan to read one a month over the course of the year. The possibilities are limitless!
The key is to enter 2015 with a sense of expectation as well as a plan. It would be a shame to exit 2015 in the same condition you entered it! By adding new dimensions, knowledge, and experiences to your life, you guard yourself from stagnation and dullness. Routines can be comforting but they can also lead to a boring life! Prayerfully consider what new dimension God wants to add to your life in 2015 that will keep you fresh and that will bring you and others joy.
You may be just one new experience away from an exhilarating life.