2014-01-17 / Chaplain's News

A new year and a new name

By Chaplain (Col.) Mark E. Thompson
7th Signal Command (Theater)

Some of you will remember the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are talking about the new year. Calvin says, “I’m getting disillusioned with these new years. They don’t seem very new at all. Each new year is just like the old year. Here another year has gone by and everything’s still the same. There’s still pollution and war and stupidity and greed. Things haven’t changed. I say what kind of future is this? I thought things were supposed to improve. I thought the future was supposed to be better.”

Hobbes replies with his usual keen insight, “The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present.”

The new year is traditionally a time for reflection. We look back over the year and assess our successes and failures. We gain some satisfaction over our successes, and we experience some grief and guilt over our failures. Each time we face a new beginning. We have hopes that things will be different and hopefully better. But as Hobbes says, the future just keeps turning into more of the present.

God doesn’t want our lives to be hum-drum, meaningless, depressing routines. God wants something better for us than that. That is why there are some things we need to recognize as we begin this New Year.

We need to see that God loves doing a new thing. He said in Revelation 21:5: “See I am making everything new.” He said practically the same thing through Isaiah the prophet, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

That is the exciting thing about knowing God. God loves doing a new thing. You and I are often afraid of change. We long to be able to cling to the status quo. Someone has said that status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” It’s dangerous to stick to the status quo.

Let me give you an example. Something happened in 1906 that dramatically changed the game of football. Before that year, football had been a low-scoring game of running and kicking. Guys in leather helmets plodded down the field methodically seeking to overpower the other team. Ever hear the expression “three yards and a cloud of dust?” This was the strategy employed throughout football before 1906.

Then something revolutionary happened. The forward pass was legalized, making it possible to gain forty yards with one throw. During that first season, however, most teams stayed with the tried-and-true way of playing the game – three yards and a cloud of dust.

One team, however, took another approach. Coaches at St. Louis University decided to switch to an offense that used the forward pass. That first season they outscored their opponents 402 to 11! Sometimes change is for the better.

God loves change, especially changed lives.

What we need is not inspiration, but a transformation. Not a resolution, but a revolution. We need a change in our lives that comes from God. What every person needs is something that will permanently affect their life situation. What we need is something that will truly satisfy our longings – something that will bring true and lasting change. What we need is for God to do a new thing within us. And that can happen. God loves doing a new thing.

A new year is also a good time to give other people a new chance. It is a time to also expect the best from them; to realize that perhaps with a little help and trust from you they could be different. Give people a chance to begin over again with you. You and I are to forgive those who have hurt or disappointed us. If we cannot even forgive each other, how can we ever hope to experience the unconditional love and forgiveness of God?

God wants something better for us in this new year than we have experienced in the past. Think about the names God has called us in the Bible. He has called us blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, adopted sons and daughters of God. Are you still carrying around an old name, the old junk the old problems the old habits the old hurts the old grudges, the old failures?

Listen as God gives you a new name for this New Year, and then go out and live as blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, adopted sons and daughters of God. This can be your best year ever.

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