January 1, 2012, will mark a new year. A new year with new resolutions, new commitments, new joys, and new celebrations. A new year will also bring new heartache, new troubles, and even carry over the old heartaches and troubles from last year. As the ball drops in Times Square and the final ten-seconds of 2011 are counted down, the new year will seem to most as a carryover of last year. It reminds me of the day before my birthday. The day before I am technically still a year younger, however, at midnight I am magically a year older. When you think about it, when you celebrate your birthday you are a day closer to being a year older. The same is true for New Year’s Day. There is not much of a difference between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day except that on New Year’s Day you have to remember to sign your checks or other documents as 2012 instead of 2011. Some look forward to the new year as a fresh start, while others see it as a holdover from the last year. So what baggage are you bringing into the new year?
It is true that New Year’s Day will not magically make your problems go away. You will still have bills to pay, fences to mend, and mountains to climb. However, New Year’s Day reminds me of how I should live continually as a Christian: by going forward. In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul writes, “13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis added) I believe Paul is saying he is continually moving forward toward the goal. Not looking back but straining ahead. Paul is not allowing his old baggage to hold him back and prevent him from obtaining his prize, which is spending eternity with Jesus Christ and knowing Him fully. Instead, Paul says he is staying focused and moving forward and never losing focus of what his goal is. This reminds me of the track and field events in the Olympics, in particular the hurdles. When the buzzer sounds or the starter pistol is fired each athlete runs forward. Their keen focus is the finish line. Each runner remains in his or her lane jumping over each hurdle and continues until they cross the finish line. Now imagine if one of the runners’ looks backwards to see what obstacles they had to leap over or what path they followed and who was behind them. With their head turned back for only a second or so, the runner will easily run off track and not know where the finish line is, the runner may even slam into the next hurdle without ever seeing it. The same is true in our lives, we must not let our baggage distract us from our goals. We must not keep looking back and living in regret and asking what if? Now, we still have to deal with our past problems, however, when we keep our focus on God and move forward, through the strength of Jesus Christ we can overcome those past obstacles and move forward (Philippians 4:13). As Christians we need to go forward, not dwelling on our past mistakes, or lost opportunities; instead we need to learn from our past, while keeping our eyes on Jesus. I am reminded of the old hymn, “I have decided to follow Jesus…. No turning back, no turning back.”
As we ring in the new year, what baggage do you need to let go of? What past obstacles do you need to take your eyes off of in order to look forward? Some of you who are reading this may be struggling with issues that were mentioned or with other issues that were not mentioned. Others may not be struggling at all right now. Wherever you are in your walk, I want to remind you of God’s promise in our lives, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) No matter the obstacles we have faced or are going to face, God’s plan in our lives is for us to be prosperous. Always remember to move forward keeping your eye on Jesus!
All from NIV
Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”