Another New Year. 2022! When I was a child, I thought I would be SO old in 2000! Here I am 22 years later and can’t quite get my head round the fact that I had a milestone birthday in 2021 – I turned 60 in May. What a fuss people made about it, much like the New Year – why the fuss? It’s not like I did anything special to reach the grand old age of 60 – I reached it by the grace of God. Same with a new year – we don’t do anything to cause the earth to rotate and the seasons to pass. That is the work of our marvellous creator God. The world doesn’t give Him a second’s glance though - so why all the fuss about the world turning? What is their focus? Their reason to celebrate?
Is it a new beginning? A new start? Another chance to get things ‘right’? A time to make all those New Year’s Resolutions? Sober January? Veganuary? The list is endless.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time this year thinking about my Big Birthday and then about the second New Year in the midst of a global pandemic. In the scheme of things these ‘special days’ don’t make a bit of difference to life. I woke up this morning in exactly the same way I have for the past 60 odd years. Slightly creakier but that’s life. But some things have changed. As a younger, unsaved woman my New Year plans involved parties, alcohol, being out all night, kissing strangers, one year was spent in Trafalgar Square. Then the resolutions – lose weight, stop smoking, be kinder, etc. All of which failed. Of course.
Since I became a Christian, my life has a different perspective. I look over the past year and remember the many answered prayers, the ways the LORD has led me and taught me. I think we can all agree that the past (almost) two years have been a huge trial. I don’t know how the world has coped (they haven’t really, I suppose). Last year we thought 2021 was going to be different and things did improve. Then they got worse again. Here we are on the brink of 2022 and still hoping and praying that the pandemic will end and we can get back to ‘normal’. And it will. But not in our timing, in the LORD’s perfect timing. I wonder if the LORD laughs when He sees politicians, scientists, conspirators etc running around like headless chickens trying to solve a problem which is out of their control. (Psalms 2 and 59 for example).
In the Old Testament we see Moses carrying a bronze serpent aloft in order to save God’s people from the plague of snakes – all those who had been bitten had to do was to look at the bronze serpent and they would be healed. (Numbers 21). The first thing we should ask is why did the LORD send the plague of snakes? The answer is as punishment for the unbelief and murmuring of the Israelites. Those Israelites, always moaning and losing faith in spite of all they had seen God do – we like to think we would have behaved differently. But would we? Honestly? Did the bronze serpent have magical healing powers? No. But it took great faith to look and believe that that would bring healing from a fatal snake bite. Of course, we don’t have a bronze serpent to look upon if we catch Covid (or any other sickness). But we have something far better.
The Lord Jesus tells us in John chapter 3 that the Old Testament bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of Him. When we look to Christ in faith that He will forgive our sins we know that He will – and in that moment we become a new creation, healed, given eternal life. Even in the midst of a global pandemic which seems to have no real end in sight, even at the start of a New Year – when the world is losing its’ mind and competing to celebrate the most, make the most resolutions, the best new starts, the best weight loss etc – we can look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and know that ‘our times are in God’s hand…’ that we can ‘submit ourselves and our affairs…to our wise and gracious God’ (Matthew Henry).
So, what am I planning for this new year? To know God more. To grow more like my Saviour. To increasingly die to self. All good things, things that all those who know Christ as their own and personal Saviour should be doing. But how can we do that? For me I know that I am disorganised and undisciplined, inconsistent and lacking in diligence (or stickability as my mum used to call it). So, for 2022 I have made a bit of a plan. Finish the many books I have started. Prepare for bible study and Sunday sermons in a more methodical way. Be more disciplined in prayer. It’s not that I don’t know I need to lose weight/eat less meat/be kinder – it’s just that those things are not my focus. I want my focus to be wholly on Him, my wonderful Saviour and the great gift He has given me of eternal life. Let’s all start this New Year with our eyes turned to Jesus and trusting that He will bring us through whatever the next year has in store – should He tarry.
Here a link to the beautiful song 'Turn your eye upon Jesus by Sovereign Grace. Its a great reminder that when our focus is on Jesus, earthly things grown dim.