New Beginnings—A New Year’s Challenge
By Virginia Brandt Berg
As we stand before the New Year, we don’t know what’s in store for us. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is that we can leave the past, with all of its cares, pains, heartaches, and mistakes, behind. We can’t undo one single act or unsay one single word, but if we will give our grief and regrets to God, He can make this New Year a fresh start.
Every day of the past year is beyond our reach, and we should leave it there. God has the past in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets. It’s sad how some people say they’re trusting God, yet they worry about the blots and stains on the pages of their past.
Once we have turned to God and confessed our mistakes and wrongdoings and asked for forgiveness, then there’s no need to go picking around in the past and bringing up those things again. God says of your past sins, “I will blot out your sins and will never think of them again.” (See Isaiah 43:25) If God doesn’t even remember them, why should we?
The Bible also tells us, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NLT) Rather than going back into the past and regretting this and that and weeping over things that we can’t change, we should remember God’s comforting promise, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be [white] as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
I once read a poem that went something like this: “If I could find the road to yesterday, I’d write the page with cleaner pen and wipe out yesterdays.” Well, I don’t want to find the path to yesterday, because I can’t wipe out anything! Only God can cover those mistakes of the past. Thankfully it isn’t God’s way to make us relive the past. Who would want to when the future is as bright as the wonderful promises of God?
When I think about the year before us, I think about all of the promises in God’s Word and about the wonderful things that can happen because those promises are unfailing, unchanging, and meant for each of us personally. With all of those promises, why would anyone want to go back and retrace the past, to walk the road to yesterday?
Because Jesus has already paid the penalty for our wrongdoing, we can say with the apostle Paul, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13–14 NLT)
Forget those things which are behind. Press onward and upward toward the goal and the prize. What a pity if we carry the burden of the past when the Lord paid such a price to lift that burden and set us free!
A young man once came up to me after I’d spoken to a large group about this subject. He was a former criminal, just out of prison, and he couldn’t believe that it was so easy. He couldn’t believe that God would cleanse his past if only he would ask Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior. It was just too much for him to believe that God could forgive such an awful past, but that night he gave his heart to Jesus, and Jesus lifted that load. Jesus forgave that man and gave him freedom he had never known. After that, the man never stopped talking about the mercy of God and how God had rid him of the torment of the past. He would often repeat the words of a hymn that he fell in love with: “My yesterdays so filled with guilt and shame, my yesterdays are gone, oh praise His name!”
Is there anything more wonderful than the miracle of forgiveness and the assurance of having our mistakes forgiven? This wonderful forgiveness is for all of us. Jesus died for all of us. All we have to do is accept His forgiveness and receive Him as our Savior. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) That’s His unqualified, unbreakable promise to you.
If you haven’t met the One who can lift the burdens of your past and give you a bright future now and eternal life in the world to come, you can today. He stands meekly at your heart’s door, waiting for you to invite Him in. Simply pray, “Jesus, please come into my life, forgive my sins, fill me with Your love, and give me Your gift of eternal life.”
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