A Clean Slate

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:13-14

For most of us, 2019 was a mixed bag of grief and joy—more grief than joy for some, and more joy than grief for others. For me and our family, it was both. This past year brought the sudden death of my father, the last of our parents and our children’s grandparents. It also brought many bright moments with friends and family and a personal victory: a six-month diet that resulted in a 25-pound weight loss. There’s also the close encounter with a new butcher knife that will leave my right index finger mummified for months. But I digress.

Though the new year ushers in new hope, its arrival carries with it an ever-growing collection of baggage in the form of hurts, disappointments and failures from years past. I continue to grieve my father, and I continue to be unable to use my right index finger. But the new year also ushers in God confidence and experience gained from the battles of the previous years. I know now, for instance, I can have victory over my weight, especially when I discipline my body for the sake of honoring a temple where God resides.

A new year is like a new day on steroids. Because of God’s mercy, we can approach each day as a fresh start. How much more so a new year?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.—Lamentations 3:22-23

I can’t begin to tell you how many days (hundreds? thousands?) I have recited that verse to myself the morning after a particularly difficult day. I can’t tell you how many times God has showered down His faithfulness on me when I most needed it. That is a reality I won’t fully appreciate on this side of heaven. 

A new year is also a good reminder to hit the spiritual reset button in your life. Have you grown apathetic about being in the word or keeping yourself accountable to fellow believers? Have you yielded to a sin you seek to justify or even celebrate? 

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.—1 John 1:9

As long as you have life, you can start again. Best of all, it’s not a solo venture. Jesus did not leave us orphans. He left us His Spirit to help us live victoriously and purposefully for His glory. If your hope is in Christ, the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you. It’s the Christian’s most-untapped resource.

Leave behind the habits and mindsets that resulted in defeat and distance from God and His people. Commit to moving forward in His power and not your own. Think of this new year as a clean slate on which to write the story of His never-ending mercies. Tip: You’ll need a big slate.