Re-do the Renew


By Sean Garner

Happy New Year (conditionally, of course)…

Congratulations, you’ve celebrated Christmas and the end of another year changing the world (in big and small ways).

Now, quickly! It’s time once again to look forward and make new goals for a new year: lose weight, do great things in your job, go on that vacation you’ve always planned on. One day, like January 1 versus December 31, can make all the difference in your perspective—so get moving you lazy bum! How else will this year be better than the last (which was, in theory, better than the one that preceded it- right?)?

Still, I guess that January 1 only started being the start of a new year in 45 B.C. when Julius Caesar literally changed everyone’s calendar in the Roman Empire, because he could. Even after that, January 1 lost out to March (in the Middle Ages; aka: the church’s awkward, moody teen years) and came back in form in the 16th Century. The truth is, many cultures, countries and faiths where World Vision and the 30 Hour Famine has the most impact celebrate the start of their new year on completely different calendar date (the Ethiopian New Year, Thai New Year, Chinese New Year, Islamic New Year and Jewish New Year celebrations are all on other days than January 1). If you were to wish any of them a Happy New Year on January 1, you’d be either WAY too early or WAY to late.

Maybe we can take the pressure off creating the “new you” by January 2…

Let’s start with some bad news that gives way to some better news: true renewal often involves a lot of death (think: winter/summer, death/resurrection, caterpillar/butterfly). Major bummer!  It does hurt a little bit; true change is like that. But, that means you don’t have to KEEP everything to start over. In times of renewal, you’ve got permission to let things go! In fact, if you relax about letting things go, you may find God brings this “new” stuff more quickly.

Second, renewal doesn’t require resources (trees don’t need money to transform each fall, Jesus didn’t need a beautiful tomb to be resurrected, caterpillars are just um…fuzzy worms to start off). So, you don’t have to HAVE anything to begin with…that’s good news for those of you working for non-profit organizations and/or looking at your not so celebration-worthy pay stubs. God’s resources are astounding; but his true wealth is inside you—not in your wallet.

Finally (and back to the whole “Julius Caesar just made up a holiday” thing), renewal doesn’t require a certain start or stop date. Take the pressure off yourself having everything together immediately. In fact, true renewal is mostly organic: it grows, shows and wanes in cycles until you look around and there is suddenly a marked change. Time is a friend of your renewal this year, not it’s enemy.

So give yourself permission to adjust your calendar and set your own New Year’s Day (in your personal life, professional life, ministry life). Give yourself permission to re-do your renew.

Let God start something new in you when the time is right, not when the calendar calls. Have you noticed that we always mark our calendars for the first day of winter or summer, and God simply chooses the day that is right for change each year and surprises us with a turn of the weather? Maybe we should follow his plan instead.

When people ask you what you did for New Year’s, tell them:  “Um, my New Year’s didn’t happen yet. I’m shooting for March 21 to start to my New Year.” Give yourself a chance to catch your breath in order to SEE the change that is coming, rather than expecting it to happen all at once.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing.

It springs up—don’t you see it?”

Revelation 21:5