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Hope in a New Year

Have you ever heard the song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg? You probably have. Every Christmas season it comes on the radio sporadically, and it is a strange tune indeed. The song is about a man seeing an old lover in a grocery store, and then going and drinking a six pack in a parking lot, reminiscing about the different paths their lives took. It has an admittedly depressing feel to it, and ends with the line, “and the snow turned into rain,” before the classic New Year tune Auld Lang Syne is belted out by a small ensemble.

This is my favorite Christmas song. I have no idea why. In college, a group of us fondly referred to the artist as “Dirty Dan” and would blast it in the car when driving together. Something about the absurdity of a Christmas song about a depressing walk down memory lane of what-could-have-beens struck me as humorously ironic.

Today, being New Year’s Eve, the news will go through and reminisce on the past year. It will feature the top songs, news stories and changes the country has been through. But on a much smaller scale, I think everyone takes some time, however briefly, on the eve of the New Year to look back on the years which have come before. Many of us look back with glad hearts and contentment about where we are today. Others look back like Dirty Dan, and say, “What if?”

What if you hadn’t decided to keep going to school? What if you had gotten a high-paying job after college? What if you had joined the Peace Corps and lived in a small hut in Kazakhstan? What if Dan Fogelberg had kept dating his high school sweetheart and never hit the road in pursuit of mediocre fame? These are things I ponder.

However, reminisces are all these will ever be. Not in the possession of a DeLorean, we have no option to go back and change the past. Etched in stone, it remains unmoved. The moment will pass by, and at the strike of midnight tonight, 2015 will fade into the annals of history as the year that the oh so insightful and empowering song, “I Can’t Feel My Face” came out.  It will slowly recede into bygone days.

But alas, when the clock strikes midnight, we have created a wonderful tradition. We celebrate the fact that with the coming of a new year, new possibilities also arrive. Hope is exuded, and humanity stands together on a precipice, making bold resolutions: lose weight! Start running! Watch the entire canon of Yu-Gi-Oh on Netflix!

Here is the secret though: the hope that fills us at the dawning of a New Year doesn’t have to end on January 8th when you eat that first, sweet slice of pizza. Because Hope is not a product or property of a calendar. Hope is the property of Jesus.

Throughout the Scriptures a story unfolds of God making a new thing. God making people new. What Jesus says to Nicodemus about being Born Again is made real when He rose from the tomb. The bonds of sin and death are defeated, and hope is alive once more. Hope actualized in a Savior deafeating death. Hope realized in a God who loves through all. And Hope manifested in the Holy Spirit today.

Our God is in the business of making things new. At the end of “Same Old Lang Syne” when Dan sings about the snow turning to rain, it does not have to be dreary. Although our pasts may be murky and bleak, filled with decisions we regret or abhor, God has given us the answer of that being washed away, and that we are made new.

Maybe you’re in a place in life where things seem bleak. Maybe you’re in a failed marriage, or relationship. Maybe you’ve been bumped and bruised financially. Maybe you’ve experienced the devastating loss of a loved one. Maybe you’ve just been beaten down by life and don’t know what to do now.

Have hope my friends. God has given us a promise that He is able to make all things new. You are not your past; you are a child of the Most High God. You are not your regrets; you are made with a purpose. You are not hopeless; for the Lord Jesus is Risen.

James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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