New Years

It's New Years Eve and I'm full of empty promises,
I half pretend to keep this time, just like last year.
The band is loud and I'm wandering the shadows,
wishing I was never here.
I persevere.
A crowded room, these whitewashed tombs,
they raise their glasses high, they kiss the past goodbye.

This New Years Eve, I'm waiting for tomorrow.
My heart is on my sleeve,
and yes I still believe, this New Years Eve,
will turn out better than before,
I'm holding on, still holding out,
until they close the door... on me.

It's New Years Eve and I feel my insecurities,
are haunting me like ghosts, this sinking quicksand.
And then with thunderous praise and lofty adoration,
a second passes by, yet nothing changes.
I hate my skin, this grave I'm standing in.
Another change of years, and I wish I wasn't here.

A year goes by and I'm staring at my watch again,
and I dig deep this time,
for something greater than I've ever been,
life to ancient wineskins.
And I was blind but now I see.

This New Years Eve, something must change me inside,
I'm crooked and misguided, and tired of being tired.
This New Years Eve, I'm waiting for tomorrow.
My heart is on my sleeve, and yes I still believe, in You.
--Reese Roper

I'd like to say something inspiring about how the transforming power of God's grace can allow you to be a new person and how you can change your life this new year, purging the dross that still clings to you and entering into the triumphant life of God in a fuller way than before. That would sound incredibly empty, though. New Year's resolutions are famous for being broken because, with some rare exceptions, people want to want to change far more than they want to change. Or perhaps they want to change more than they are able to change? I'm not sure what the proper distinction is, but there is a disconnect between how the average person lives and how they wish they lived.

There's a profound insight into the human condition lurking behind that observation. Why should it be so? It is strangely difficult to motivate yourself to do the things that you actually enjoy doing, and frighteningly easy to spend your life replacing the things you really enjoy with things that are far less satisfying. TV is a prime example of this, but there are others. The statistics on how many hours a day people spend watching television are absolutely horrendous. I've never met anyone that thinks that spending long hours in front of the TV every day is a good way to live, so why do so many people live that way?

Because they are trapped. Satan does not want you to be happy, he wants you to be miserable. Sin enslaves you to something which you do not like doing but cannot stop. TV is, again, one of the most obvious examples, but it is true of enslavement to any sin. The world is full of people who do wicked (and not-so-wicked) things not because they enjoy doing them, but because they are unable to stop (and, perhaps, because they're still hoping for the promised payoff). That is why new-years resolutions are so hard to keep. In the end, the fundamental New-Years-Resolution problem reduces to the fundamental human problem: bondage to sin.

While this is true of the fallen human condition, how is it relevant to the believer, who has been set free from the power of sin? In the first place, it is important to remember that while you may be a Christian, you still suck. In other words, the fact that you are redeemed means that Christ's grace is working in you to make you a new man. It does not mean that you are magically given the self-motivation to correct all your faults. Becoming holy is not like losing weight. In other words, Sanctification is not primarily an act of will but an act of grace. Because of this, praying for God to change your heart is probably more effective than vowing to turn yourself into the person you want to be.

Jesus took on flesh and conquered death to make all things new. And, as we celebrate the newness of the year, we can pray that the kingdom He inaugurated would come in more fullness to our lives in 2006.

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