Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Something about hanging up a new calendar, page 1, JANUARY: maybe there is no real reason to believe the year ahead will be significantly better, but still, there is an irrepressible feeling that with the new year comes a fresh start. January 1 feels like a giant annual Reset Button.

This year will be different. Maybe we don't say it out loud, but we think it...and we hope it. Different how? This year, I'll finally get into a regular exercise routine. This year, I'm going to lose those extra pounds I've been carrying around. This year, I will floss my teeth every single day. This year, I'm going to spend more time studying Scripture. This year, I will fill-in-the-blank. This year marks a new beginning...

In my read-through-the-Bible journey, I am back in Genesis. Yet again, I am stunned and saddened by how very quickly our story moves from creation/Eden/perfection to the Fall/God's curse/corruption. Day 2 of this new year, and already, mankind is so evil that God determines to destroy all but Noah and his family.

Ahhh, but thank goodness for Noah. His is a romantic tale, no? A righteous man and his family, tucked safely away in a floating haven by God while all the rest of creation suffers God's judgment and wrath. All the wickedness and sin of the world washed away in one cataclysmic flood. A fresh start. A chance to begin again, to "get it right."

Thank goodness for Noah - now our story will certainly take a turn for the better!

Well, actually, no, it won't. After seeing a wicked world judged by God and destroyed by water, after witnessing God's gracious salvation of their own family, after receiving God's covenant promises, after the Restart Button has been pushed in a graphic, life-altering way, how does Noah's family "start over"? Right away, we read of Noah's son Ham dishonoring his father, "righteous" Noah, who is lying passed out drunk and naked in his tent. A new curse. Dissension between brothers. Turn the page, and the descendants of Noah are building a tower to heaven, a monument to their arrogance and self-idolatry. All too quickly, our parents move from washed clean, to filthy and corrupt. From set apart by God, to set apart against God. An opportunity for a fresh start, totally wasted!

Seems like no matter how many times January 1st rolls around, and no matter how earnestly we resolve to do better, we just never seem to get it right. What's wrong with us, people?!

Simply put, we are broken. And nothing on this earth - no number of fresh starts, no amount of resolve - can fix that.

In my read-through-the-Bible journey, I am also back in Matthew. Here in the first Gospel, I read, "...that which is conceived in her (Mary) is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Finally, we come face to face with the only One who can truly fix our brokenness and cure our unrighteousness! I am so thankful that God has me reading about Jesus over in Matthew, even while I'm reading about my first parents back in Genesis, grateful He is showing me anew the Great Light even while I am reading about our great darkness.

Yes, I do have a few plans for this new year, 2012 - a "fresh start" or two I'd like to make. Will I be faithful to my resolutions? Well, judging from past experience, probably not...but I can still hope, right? And still try? And, whether I succeed in losing a few pounds or not, whether I floss diligently or no, whether I learn to fire a handgun with confidence or write more consistently or pray more faithfully - one thing is certain: Jesus will accomplish all that He has resolved to do. That includes covering me with and conforming me to His own righteousness. That includes bringing me home to Glory.

In Jesus, I have a fresh start that will not be corrupted, one that cannot fail.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come... - 2 Corinthians 5:17

But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. - 2 Peter 3:13

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