2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, NEW things have come.
The word NEW has been tossed between my heart and mind countless times over the last several months. Every so often a word grabs my attention for a season, and recently it has been the word, NEW. In order to welcome in NEW, there must be a release of OLD. There’s a passing from and a taking hold of. In the process of moving into NEW, what is left behind then becomes the OLD. Even as I type that word, OLD, it sounds dull and unappealing as opposed to the word NEW which seems to glisten, shine, and excite! The word OLD just seems to fall flat, like the champagne on the counter from last night and about as unappealing as the moldy cheese in the fridge from 2 months ago.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been a fan of NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. My first recollection of making such resolutions takes me back to my high school days. I recall a church youth gathering, a “lock-in” actually, where I might have gotten into some bit of trouble that might have involved boys. Sorry mom and dad, this may be “NEW”s to you. In those days if you were going to lock me in anywhere, it probably wasn’t wise to do so with boys. Anyway, there was a message given by a youth pastor in the early hours of New Years Day that made me feel dirty, rotten, and not enough for God as I sat in the folding chair circle having my feelings affirmed by the pious stares of other girls. Likely there was a Michael W. Smith song that played, such as “Above All” compelling me to write a list of resolutions. I’m sure I wrote something to the effect of not liking boys and having a “quiet time” with God every day. Only then to have this list of necessary changes about my horrid and wretched sinful-self mailed back to me 6 months later. I specifically remember opening that envelope that held this said list of resolutions on a warm summer day in June. All the feelings I had when making the list came rushing back and affirmed I would never measure up to the girl God was pleased with, and this was just who I would always be. Sorry, that just went pretty deep into my troubled teens, but the point of the story is that resolutions can deliver and leave us in places of striving and failure. A resolved feeling can motivate us to put pen to paper, but sometimes it ends there. Without a plan to become NEW we will never leave behind OLD.
Each year I sit at a table with trained individuals who work with and my daughter at her school. Together we formulate and discuss her IEP (Individual Education Plan). We assess the progress of previous goals set and mark them accordingly. Some goals are near misses; others are reached, because the expectation has been specifically set so that she can succeed. Her IEP will not look like anyone else’s. It is individualized, crafted for her to make progress. For example, she is non-verbal, and has not made vocalization progress in her 10 years of life, so her communication goals will not be to make new words, or even sounds. A goal of activating a communication switch with intent would be an appropriate and achievable goal for her. Now, once the goal is set, she’s not left to her own devices to meet it. A support team made up of: therapists, aides, teachers, classmates and her family come alongside her to help her make progress towards meeting the goal.
As I thought about the NEW of 2017, I wanted to set some of my own goals, but bring others along with me in the process. These were not going to be absolutes, but marks that I felt I could set out to meet. Some of my goals may not be fully achieved in 2017, but achievement will not be the goal, progress will. Setting the expectation too high will leave me crippled with discouragement much like I was at age 15. My goal-setting meeting will also not be held in a circle of folding chairs with self-righteous high school girls.
Who sits at the table of your 2017 goal-setting meeting? It will not look the same for everyone with the exception of One. One person in particular is on everyone’s individualized team offering a resource no one else can. The resource offered is mercy, and it’s not OLD; it’s NEW. With each NEW day, God the Father faithfully meets us with NEW mercy with which He enables us to progress toward some NEW and leave some OLD behind.
“Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are NEW every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.”
So, my friends, the NEW has come for you today, weather you like it or not. Do something with it. Gather your family, or spouse, or friend and set some goals together, then when 2017 becomes the OLD and 2018 becomes the NEW mark the progress and set NEW goals, knowing that each day will be packed with the NEW mercy you will need to make progress.
(I’m including our projected family goals for 2017. From this list we’ve all been encouraged to also set individual goals. These goals will then be posted in our home to help maintain focus and encourage us toward some NEW in 2017!)
- more individual time with God
- Pray together at mealtime for those we love & support
- NO CELL PHONES at our family table
- Spend less; give more
*no NEW clothes
*eating out 2 Sundays per month
- 30-minutes of exercise 3x a week
- Each person sets his or her own personal health goal
- Be responsible for our own messes: dishes, laundry, room, etc.