For years, each of the many clocks has had its own chime and chosen its own time to strike. While we bow in pensive prayer, their staggered symphony chimes twelve for the last time in a year that dumped its disparate memories, imperiously closed its door, flashed down the runway, and vanished into the clouds. As the clocks tick toward their next concert, we exchange handshakes, hugs, and hopes for a happy new year.
Yes, Happy New Year! The very words express our longings. The prospects are exciting. This could be the year of the Rapture! Long awaited answers to prayer may lighten hearts. Visions of fruitfulness in the gospel, deepening intimacy with the Lord, and much greater likeness to Christ gild the horizon. Wounded hearts, fragile families, diseased bodies might heal. Assembly concerns may fade in the sunrise of revival.
But, the march of previous years assures us that, apart from the Lord’s coming, we will again visit the cemetery, brush back the tears by a hospital bed, and recoil at the shock of unwanted news. Our spiritual growth will be minuscule compared with what true Christ-likeness is. The flesh, our treacherous traitor within, will find ways new and old to push us toward spiritual shipwreck. Lawless society, at best, masquerading as a friend of godly principles, will plunge further toward the ascendency of the Lawless One. Creation’s groaning will continue its deafening crescendo. This Christ-rejecting world will not move toward its golden era. The new year will be in too many ways the “same-old same-old.” Too soon it will be just another old year.
Nevertheless, our God-given longings for the “new” are themselves the assurance that a year, truly new in kind, will inevitably dawn.
Although I do not recommend viewing this film or going to a movie theater, I appreciated a striking insight I read in a recent review of the new movie, “The Passion.” The reviewer wrote about the scene he considered most profound. Mary, the Lord’s mother, runs to Jesus on His way to Calvary. She reaches out to touch His face with a mother’s gesture of protection and support. He bears His cross on a bleeding back and wears the marks of cruel abuse. Looking at her with “intensely probing and passionately loving eyes,” He says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:6).
The film-maker captured a wonderful truth. The cross assures the fulfillment of God’s ultimate purpose for creation. Among the many consequences of the mighty cry, “It is finished,” is the eventual pronouncement, “It is done.” All things will be new, truly new in kind. The travail of the Creator-Redeemer will banish the travail of creation.
Being in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), we are part of a new creation; true newness has reached our spirits. When the Lord catches us away, newness will embrace us entirely. When He returns to earth, newness will extend its reach into nature and society. Inevitably, in a new heaven and a new earth, all things will be new, truly new.
Every passing year deepens our discontent with the old and lengthens our longings for the new, the truly new. Will He come this year? Will this be a truly new year for us?
Happy truly New Year!