With the Christmas season over, I feel relatively safe with the following disclosure:
I was about 10 years old when my cousin told me that a certain crimson-clad holiday figure may or may not be real.
At first, I was resilient in my rejection of her theory. It couldn’t possibly be true. But I soon grew up, understanding that some things are simply tradition and nothing more. I still played along for the younger cousins, but a shift took place in my mind.
I no longer believed in the magic.
Every year, around the beginning of December, I’m reminded that millions of children still believe in the magic, and I understand that tradition and holiday stories are fun for children.
And then, around the beginning of January, I’m reminded that there are many adults who believe in magic as well. However, the magic they subscribe to has nothing to do with gifts or trees or sleighs.
This fictional magic is the magic of the New Year.
Inherent in humanity is the desire for a fresh start, a new beginning. It’s naturally easier to deal with a blank slate than a dirty one. You’ve seen those movies where the bad guy is offered a chance to do the right thing, to help the good guy, and in return, he gets a fresh start.
New beginnings are extremely attractive to us.
Every January, we hear the same phrases ring out. “New year new me! Thank goodness 2020 is over! I’m so ready for 2021!”
So many people long for that January 1st box on their calendar to have some sort of supernatural power, some type of cleansing agent that can wipe away every 2020 event or stain or mistake, and provide a bleached white record for the next year.
In 2021, it took us a whole 6 days to receive a stark reminder that everything is the same as it was a couple of weeks ago. We watched as rioters stormed the Capitol building, leading to several deaths. We watched as the moral and political divide in our country continued to widen. And we watched as both sides seemed to scream louder at the other.
Unfortunately, January 1st has come and gone yet again, and the world is still broken and in need of saving, just like it was last year.
However, as the problems have clearly not changed, the answer has not changed either.
Jesus Christ is still the only saving grace, the only hope for any true healing in our world.
One inspiring tendency within the character of Jesus is His willingness to meet us in our moment of need, and supply us with what is actually best for our lives, even while we’re looking for it elsewhere.
We see this in the Bible, during Christ’s encounter with a woman at a well in John 4. This woman journeyed to the well, having been married five times, each relationship ending like the last. And at the time, she was living with a sixth man out of wedlock.
The woman arrives at the well with a plethora of problems, looking to draw the same water from the well that she always has. Her mistakes and troubles seemingly unchanged by it all. Through one trip to the well after another, the void in her life remained unfilled.
January of 2021 saw the same tired people who journeyed to the well in January of 2020 still in need of something life-changing. Whatever resolutions they made last year didn’t pan out, and they were left bruised and dejected after the trial-filled year of 2020.
This is exactly the type of circumstance that Jesus encounters at the well.
He tells the woman,
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14).
After a year of strife, turmoil, division, and anger, obviously, the answer is not within ourselves. Humanity itself cannot be the answer to humanity’s problem. Left to our own devices, years like 2020 can be expected to recur.
The answer is the living water of Jesus Christ, and it always has been.
Placing your faith in the magic of the New Year and the blank slate that January 1st supposedly offers will always leave you thirsty. Every new year will arrive, that new calendar will get hung on the wall, and everything else will stay the same.
Fortunately, the newness that is so desired can be found in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The annual longing for a fresh start, a new life, is available through a relationship with Jesus Christ, bought and paid for by His death on a cross. If you follow Him, He will give you living water that will eternally sustain you.
It’s no magic or gimmick. This is powerful transformation, and it’s completely available to you, regardless of what day it is.