The online world can be a beautiful place. Over the years, I have encountered women with a deep passion for the gospel, a desire for growth in scriptural understanding, and an embrace of the high calling of motherhood. Emily Jensen is one of those women. Her online ministry, both in writing and her podcast, have often encouraged and challenged my heart. That's why I was thrilled when she agreed to write a special post for the new year here. I know you will be blessed with her thoughts for 2018.....
On my bookshelf sits a deep-emerald green textural prayer journal, waiting to be filled with my hopes for 2018. Next to it, you’ll find a growing pile of books I plan to read, which will hopefully incite life-changes that actually last. And although I haven’t gotten around to it yet, the white walls of our mudroom are empty and ready for some printables with goals for every member of the family so we can track the great things we’ll do in the new year. With the turning of a simple calendar day, it feels like the white snow in our yard lets out a big breath and fills the air with the magical aroma of change. Like Lucy walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, greeting a new world that feels more exciting than scary, we tentatively explore the possibilities and hope again for the promise of new.
Particularly, I like to think that new means I’m suddenly going to be good at all the things. Instead of picking a very small-sampling of life areas to consider changing, I imagine this year will make me a new and better wife, mom, cook, gym member, church member and neighbor. But the thing about newness is that it’s not magic, it’s not produced by flipping a calendar page, and it’s not a direct result of our own savvy efforts. Newness ultimately belongs to God, and we get a chance to image him as we enter into the new good things he is doing. So as we consider the fresh feeling of 2018, let’s remember these truths about newness.
Only God can Truly Do Something New
God was the first and the only one to truly do something brand-spanking-new. Because he has existed for all of time, he is the only source of all new and created things (Psalm 90:2). When we think of our goals and our fresh ideas, it’s important to remember that there is really nothing new under the sun as far as God is concerned (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Our goals and ideas might be different from last year, and we might have added some Pinterest-sourced tips and tricks, but no one is really doing something completely new. We struggle with the same sins, setbacks, and limitations as every other human since the fall (Romans 3:23). In fact, humans are only attributed with inventing new ways to do evil (Romans 1:30). So we don’t exactly have an awesome track record when it comes to doing new things. The only new good works we do come from the God who is in the process of making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Only God can Produce New Good Fruit
So if true “newness” belongs to God alone, can we be hopeful for new things in our own lives this year? Yes! As long as we remember that the new, good works we walk in and the new good fruit we produce isn’t really a direct result of our own SMART goals. Sure, we can do some behavior modification here and there (actually, I’m embarrassingly bad at that), and we can occasionally keep some rules for a while, but only God can write his law on our hearts, giving us a heart of flesh where it was once stone (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:26). Only his power within us can cause us to will and to work according to his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He is the God of new, and he renews us as we fix our minds on his word, standing in awe of the work he’s done on our behalf (Romans 12:2).
The Good News:
We don’t have to have it all figured out this year when it comes to starting something new, because we trust a God who does.
Remember, this is the God who made the heavens and the earth, the animals, the people on the earth, and who created the science that orders it all together.
This is the God who gave a New Covenant when the old one was a hovering cloud of death.
This is the God who promises to renew and restore all things at the return of Christ.
He can certainly handle our sanctification in the new year!
So as we crack open our prayer journals, our stacks of books, our crisp notepads, and our organizational apps, let’s rest knowing that it’s not up to us to make ourselves new. We’ve already been washed as white as snow in Christ, and the best “new” we will ever experience is still yet to come (Isaiah 1:18, Revelation 21:5). Eternity, 2018’s got nothing on you.
About the author:
Emily Jensen is the Co-Founder of Risen Motherhood, and the Co-Host of the weekly podcast. Risen Motherhood is a ministry which encourages and equips moms to apply the gospel in their everyday moments. She lives with her husband and five young children amidst the cornfields of central Iowa. You can find her microblogging @risenmotherhood on Instagram and all podcast archives at RisenMotherhood.com.