A new year brings with it the hope of a clean slate and new beginnings. For Christians, perhaps we celebrate each New Year so jubilantly because the concept of new beginnings is the basis of all we believe.
The one and only Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons and daughters of men could become the children of God. In that greatest of gift exchanges, we were given the ultimate new beginning: we exchanged our sin for His sinlessness. His scarlet blood was shed so that our deepest darkness became white as snow. We were made new creatures in Christ.
This year, I think I see that newness in a different light though. For each holiday that passes reminds me more and more of those who are no longer here in our midst. And it seems as if the list of those loved ones who have died grows exponentially longer each year. Of course, that is not the truth. The reality is that as I grow older, I simply recognize the frailty and brevity of humanity more than I did as a child. Adulthood brings with it some very sobering truths.
But the most wonderful truth I have recognized thus far is the immutability of God. He never changes. He is I AM THAT I AM, and He always will be. The one true God who revealed Himself to Mary and Joseph long months before the Babe appeared in that manger is the very same God who revealed Himself to me last year in the faces of my grandchildren as they read and acted out the biblical story of the very first Christmas.
Sitting there on the floor surrounded by my family, it was so easy to imagine that their smiling, shining faces will still worship and praise the immutable King of Kings long after I am gone. They are being taught to know Him, love Him, and seek Him as their Savior, so I have an abiding faith that they will serve Him all the days of their lives. That faith, that promise of an undying eternal heritage, gives me hope each and every day. It is a constant new beginning for me.
The other end of my Christmas spectrum was a little tougher for me to handle this year.
I see Christ clearly and plainly in the undying love my parents have for each other. After 63 years of marriage, their love is probably stronger now than ever. But it is so difficult to watch as my precious daddy, the first man I ever loved, is weakened and ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s. Though he still knows us all and can remember specific moments from decades past, he is not who he was or even who he wants to be. And that is the hardest part, the times he humbly apologizes for his frailty and shortcomings.
I tried to drink in every moment with my parents this Christmas, especially those with my dad. I tried not to fixate on the fact that it might be my last Christmas with him. I reminded myself that tomorrow is not promised for any of us, so I needed to trust God for tomorrow and simply enjoy today.
That was quite easy to do as I watched my grandkids laugh and play. After all, they have a lifetime of Christmases ahead of them. But it took rock-solid, bedrock faith to watch as my parents sat side-by-side and gently held their youngest great-grandchild during what could be our last family Christmas together.
Everything I am, everything I do as a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, and even as a teacher and a writer, began with my mom and dad. I love Him because they loved Him in front of me; I serve Him because they served Him first.
Then, it hit me. Everything all comes back to Him.
I am not a Christian because of them; I am a Christian because of Christ. And His love is endless, unchanging. My parents love God because He first loved them. He was the beginning to their eternity, He was my eternal beginning, and He will be the eternal beginning for each generation to come. He is my family’s I AM THAT I AM— our endless new beginning.
So, regardless of what next Christmas brings, or even what tomorrow brings, my family and I will celebrate that eternal beginning with each and every day we are granted here on earth. And then, we will celebrate together, forever at the feet of Jesus. This life is not the end. In fact, for Christians, there is no end; He is our beginning.
Therefore, let us all celebrate this New Year of 2020 by standing on John 1:1-4,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Let His light shine in 2020!