The New Year comes by itself. But a new beginning in our lives – that we must choose.
I believe that many of us have a ‘collection’ of half-finished projects in life. We look back and can see good intentions for a healthier life that we haven’t done anything about, unfulfilled plans to attend a course, almost finished practical work in the home or half-finished handicrafts.
Hopefully, we can also enjoy the fruit of intentions being realised and promises being kept. My life now, serving as an officer in The Salvation Army, is the consequence of both good intentions and conscious choices. Just like most people in their 20s, I was thinking through the alternatives for my life. It was an important step forward to recognise that being an officer was not first about what to do, or having a profession in an organisation that does useful things. I relaxed in my calling and felt peace when I realised this was the beginning of a new phase of my life with Jesus. And his plans for me are good.
Of course, that would include learning basic things and developing skills – but it was important for me to realise that it was not about just doing certain things. It was an inner conviction of trusting God for the rest of my life and an active choice of practising that in the context of The Salvation Army.
The year of 2017 will come by itself. But how will you use these 365 days? Both you and I have limited control of the details. Yes, we plan activities and to celebrate birthdays, etc. But there are so many factors that are out of our control. The days will come by themselves, because of the laws of creation that make the Sun, Moon and Earth move in a certain way. But we have choices to make about the purpose for which we shall use our time and abilities.
To help everyone who is connected to The Salvation Army in Germany, Lithuania and Poland, the Territorial Leaders’ Conference decided that one purpose for this year will be that we “Call [people] to Jesus”. That statement immediately makes me ask: What would that “call” sound like? I hope it will sound like the voice of Jesus.
When Jesus called people he said “follow me”. That is an invitation to trust his company. Not, first of all, to DO this or that. He said that his purpose was to call sinners who need mercy and not the righteous who think they impress God by what they do. He called a child to himself, making it an example of being great in God’s kingdom by resisting the call to position and power. Two blind men shouted with loud voices to get Jesus’ attention. He replied by calling them to himself. Probably not so loud. And he gave them the opportunity to speak. Then he asked: What do you want me to do for you?
I find that to be a good summary of how we can make use of a beginning, a new year. What do you want JESUS to do? What is his speciality? For what purpose and what need in your life did he die and rise to a new life and for what purpose is he willing to give you his Holy Spirit?
Perhaps before going forward and responding to Jesus, you need to look back. Are you ready to leave the past behind? Are you ready to let Jesus keep you company?
If you have got stuck in a life of disappointments, if you look back and see choices that made things go wrong, what can be done? Well, there is absolutely no point in blaming others or seeing yourself as a victim of circumstances.
Choose a new beginning. Walk with Jesus as Lord. He heals what has been broken, wipes away regrets with his forgiveness and allows you to see how people and relationships will change for good when he enters your company.
This was first published in Heilsarmee Magazin Nr.1 2017