“New Year’s Resolutions,” “A fresh start,” “A reset,” “Out with the old and in with the new,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “New beginnings,” All these sayings and many more are used to describe how we deal with one year rolling into the next. I’ve used them all, tried to live most and failed at almost every one. I must admit that I’m not as good at keeping New Year’s promises as I am at making them. I am not alone. It is estimated that 92% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken, most of them by February.
I am writing this short note at the end of the 2017 not to encourage you to make a new set of resolutions or promises for the New Year. We all know how those usually work out. You and I should have goals and we should work intentionally toward those goals, but that is more of a day by day, month to month process. I am writing to encourage us as strongly as I can to do one thing as 2017 becomes 2018. I want all of us, myself included to do this one life changing thing. Simply said; Turn the page.
You and I have had some good times and some victories in 2017. They are great memories, but the victories of the past don’t guarantee successes in the future. Praise God for the good times and the wins and “turn the page”.
You and I have had some tough times and some defeats in 2017. They cannot be changed. They are but history lessons in a previous chapter of our life. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is a mantra for those who will be stuck in the middle of the book. Praise God for the tough times and the lessons learned. Close this chapter – start the next and “turn the page”.
The best line I heard recently in this vein was supposedly from an answering machine. The recorded message said “I’m sorry but I’m not available to take your call, I’m making some changes in my life right now. If you don’t hear back from me you’re one of them.” Now that’s “turning the page”!
We have all had people in our orbit who have hindered our walk with Christ, wasted our time or drained the life out of us. Hey, as we and the Lord write the next chapter in our lives they need not be part of the storyline. We need to leave them on page 2017 and “turn the page”.
Regret will demoralize us, impurity will disqualify us, anxiety will depress us, dishonesty will discredit us, anger will damage us, fear will derail us but because of Jesus Christ thank God none of this can defeat us. Though these vices had been part of the development of the plot they need not be part of the ending of the story God is writing with us. They can and should be set aside. God’s grace allows us to replace our past failures with forgiveness and change. We need to take our bookmarks out and “turn the page”.
Perhaps last year the chapter heading read FAILURE. Remember 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Failure is not final, “turn the page”. Perhaps the chapter heading was HURT or PAIN. Cling to Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Turn the page.
Perhaps words you thought you would never have associated with you such as widow or widower, divorcee, orphan, caregiver or bankrupt made up the bulk of the sentences of your life’s story in 2017. Maybe you thought you just couldn’t go on, that you were down for the count. Believe Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Get up and “turn the page”.
The apostle Paul gave some pointed advice about turning the page when he wrote to the Philippians. His words speak volumes to us today. He wrote “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:13b-14). To paraphrase Paul: forget the past, fight for the future and focus on the prize. Simply put – “turn the page”.
Turn the page because we can’t rewrite or relive the past. Turn the page because we can’t write the next chapter if we won’t let the last one go. Turn the page because God has a plan for us, a prize for us at the end of our story here on earth. I can’t speak for you but the last words I want written in last chapter of my story are “Well done thy good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”. That’s why I am choosing to “turn the page.”
Happy New Year, Feliz Ano Nuevo,
Blessings, Pastor Dave