Beginning each new day of 2018 with a clean slate

Published 8:42 am Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year to each of you! I pray that in 2018 that God continually blesses you this year, and that each of you continue to bless others! It is almost unimaginable that 2017 is now in the record books. There is something refreshing and soothing about starting all over, and beginning anew. We need to embrace the fact that we can do something different not only each year, but also each minute, hour, and day of our lives. Psalms 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.” We seem to be able to number years while the days slip right by us. A single day can provide as many opportunities as the 365 days together.
This past Tuesday was my birthday, and to have a birthday at the beginning of a new year is unique. Honestly, as a child I despised the fact my birthday was in the coldest part of winter when all the money was spent from Christmas, all the lights and decorations came down, and everyone was out of the celebration mode. Not to mention the fact that an outdoor birthday party was unthinkable in the frigid temps, most of my friends were snowed in, and if we weren’t snowed in, then we started back to school from winter break on that very day! On January 2nd, it seems the mentality of almost everyone is, “Let’s try to survive this bleak and bitter winter and make it to spring!” As an adult, I can see things a bit different. To have a new calendar year and your next year of life starting at the same time is to start over on a clean slate on both playing fields at the same time! I am grateful for when God allowed me to enter this world. I entered the world during the beginning of a new year, and now I can see that is special!
Let’s think for a moment about a huge chalk board filled with all the events from my life in 2017. The blackboard is filled with white chalk words, sentences, and paragraphs scribbled down quickly from the past year of life. These words and phrases come from my thoughts and actions during the past year. Certain words with question marks: why, how, when, and what seem to stand out to me in bold print. These words are things about the year that I did not completely comprehend; times when I did not understand what God was doing or where he was trying to take me. Sentences of joy and excitement fill the board too. I see the day when one of my younger brothers called me to tell me that he was going to be a dad for the first time. Here’s a joyful moment I won’t forget! Once again, I see the word “Uncle” on the board. I also see moments filled with pain, suffering, and heartache. I can see names of individuals in my church who were diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses during 2017, and names of individuals that God called home. I can see paragraphs with “coulda, woulda, shoulda” moments of regret, and I can also see successes when I did exactly what God wanted me to do.
It is impossible for me to describe all the writing that I see on my board, but honestly what is written on my board is not pertinent to you. You must go see your board. I ask that each of you get alone with God, and ask him to reveal your own 2017 chalkboard. Slowly let it all sink in, and reflect upon the past year with wisdom. Are there some things that you could have done better? Do you have any regrets? How did you grow spiritually? Did you grow closer to Christ? What were some defining moments when you learned a valuable lesson? You need to be able to hold on to those lessons, the wisdom, and the knowledge that God imparted during 2017, and then let the hurt, pain, suffering, heartache, and regrets be erased completely away. At the end of this time spent alone with God, I pray you see a clean slate for 2018. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” May your heart seek to love God and others, and the Lord will direct your steps and guide you down the right path. We can all start out with a clean slate, we can start this year fresh and new, without all the baggage that we tend to carry around with us.
Here’s something that we tend to overlook! Why should we wait to the end of a year to see our board? Would it not make so much more sense to review our board at the end of each day, and to make the needed changes now rather than waiting a whole year. Each morning when our eyes open, and the sun rises we are presented the opportunity for a clean slate! We can choose to see what was written from the day before, and begin rewriting a new narrative. Jeremiah states in Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” God’s mercy, grace, compassion, and love is new every morning, and his is faithful to help us if only we will allow him to do so! Praise God we get a clean slate every day! Yesterday can be erased, and that is a powerful truth!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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