I like this time of the year. We have just celebrated the birth of Christ. We are now preparing for the New Year. In some ways, the New Year is a fresh start. If the old year was hard, there is always the hope that the next year will be better and more promising. Unfortunately, we often allow the previous year to define what can be accomplished in the New Year. I wonder if history repeats itself. Or does human nature expect nothing different?
I was reminded of this during our Christmas play. There is something prophetic in the repeated line of “nothing ever happens here.” Where is the hope? Where is the expectation? The people seemed doomed to living a life of low expectation with nothing new or exciting. If we are not careful, we can miss what is really happening and what God wants to do.
As we look at the events leading up to the birth and early ministry of Jesus, we see a pattern. It starts with Zacharias. When an angel speaks to him about the birth of his son he asks, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Keep in mind he is talking to an angel that just delivered exciting news. Maybe that alone should be enough evidence. After his son is born, no one wants him to be named John because, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” Talk about a “we have never done it this way before” attitude. Then when Jesus is born, the Magi do not show up in Bethlehem. This is a city of little importance. They showed up where the action should be - in Jerusalem. Years later, when Jesus comes out of Nazareth, Nathanael asks “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” It is as if the past dictates the future. We seem to struggle with the idea of God doing something different. What if God actually wants to accomplish great things through us in the next year? What if He wishes to do things greater than we believe possible or probable?
I am not suggesting that we should be unrealistic about the future, but we need to be open to God. Recognize, as we prepare for a New Year, our future is not determined by our past, location, or abilities. Our future is dependent on our openness to the working of God in our lives. Do we believe that God can do great things in our lives in the next year? Are you ready for whatever HE wants to do?