An Old Testament writer said: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)
You know, in a very real sense, that is correct. Early in science classes, we were taught that “matter/energy is neither created nor destroyed. It merely changes forms.” That probably means that every molecule that ever was still is. Somewhere, in some form. Albert Einstein rocked the scientific world back on its heels in the first decade of the last century when (as a low-level postal clerk) he first posed his “theory of relativity.” As strange as it may seem, he did not invent or discover anything that was “new.” Every single thing he talked about had always been here. All the necessary “ingredients” of his theoretical physics had been here since time began. The ancient Egyptians with all the wisdom collected in the fabled library at Alexandria, hadn’t a “clue.” Nor did the Greeks or the Renaissance intellectuals. It took someone as smart as Einstein, relying heavily on the thought and work of smart people like Isaac Newton and other predecessors, and all the centuries of accumulated wisdom, to figure out what had always been there. All the time. And it’s taken a lot of very smart people (I’m not one of them!) to figure out what he figured out and they’re still trying to figure out what to do with what Einstein “discovered.” Once the “atomic” age was ushered in, the implications and applications have dramatically changed civilization forever! But the reasons for such change were not “new.”
We can wait and watch in eager, wide-eyed anticipation as other smart people discover other wonderful, awesome ideas and “things” that have always been there, waiting to be found. Bill Gates isn’t the last or only such pioneer/entrepreneur. But you can rest assured that, when another great mind emerges with a “new” discovery, it will not be new at all. They’ll be pulling back the curtain on other mysteries that were here at the opening bell! There is really NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.
In another sense, though, every day is a new thing. God’s mercies are renewed to us EVERY MORNING.* Every single day of our lives. This is not just an annual occurrence. We celebrate a “new” year, as a way we measure the passing of time. Through observation and experience, some very intelligent people discovered that the earth does a complete rotation on its axis every twenty-four hours. And this little sphere we inhabit makes a complete revolution through four seasons in a complete journey around the sun every 365¼ days. We use those figures in several significant ways to measure growth and progress, make appointments, take inventory, and “tally up.” But God doesn’t wear a watch or consult a calendar. He isn’t confined by our sense of time and space. At any given moment, in any place, He reserves the right to interrupt and alter the course of events, to confront us and challenge and change each of us!
As I’ve been reflecting on the coming of another “New Year,” it seemed natural for me to recall times and places where I’ve encountered the word or idea of “newness” in Scripture. This was one of those times when I found my trusty Concordance to be a valuable tool in helping to locate certain words or ideas. I also searched my memory of verses I’d memorized years ago, and one sentence that emerged almost instantly from my subconsciousness was a sentence in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold all things are become New” (II Corinthians 5:17.).
Based on what he had experienced personally on the highway to Damasscus was a change is so dramatic, so far reaching, it can only be likened to a new birth. Being “born again.” Which is exactly the point Jesus made to Nicodemus, as recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.
Saul of Tarsus confronted the living Christ, and as a result, he developed a completely new attitude, and turned to pursue entirely different goals. Almost immediately, he developed new desires. New ambitions. And he also got a new name. He would later declare that nothing in the dramatic change had anything to do with his best efforts. He declared, in fact, that all the “righteousness” he’d counted on for favor with God was nothing more than a pile of old, dirty, rottten rags. Regardless of the religious credentials and zeal and fervor he possessed, the great man of God declared that he’d been “saved” “by grace, through faith (in the Living Christ.)” He went further to say the new life he had was not because of righteous things he’d done himself, but instead it happened by “grace, through faith.”
Everyone who’d known him before the experience would vouch for the fact that he was a different person. A new kind of man!
I don’t mean this as a tired old pep talk. As in, Rah! Rah! Sis boom bah! I’m not waving pom poms or strutting like a drum major trying to get a crowd worked up into a frenzy. I’m not talking about dropping a ball in Times Square at midnight and hooting and hollering and swigging champagne getting schnockered and singing “Auld Ang Zyne” off key and setting off spectacular displays of fireworks. Let’s call this, instead, a REALITY CHECK.
What I’m trying to say as clearly as I can is that God offers you a whole new set of possibilities. Every day is a chance to start over. Every new year, every single moment of every day. Until you run out of days.
THE REALITY is that every day we have a chance to start over. To Begin again. What we’ve done in the past does not determine what we can do in the future. Where you’ve been does not have to determine where you’re going. What you’ve done does not decide what you can do. The kind of person you’ve been does not dictate the kind of person you can become. . . if Christ is allowed in the equation.,
I’m not talking about clocks and calendars, and holidays and changing seasons. I’m talking about the grace of God. The kind of power that can make a new person. I’ve seen such changes occur too frequently for me to doubt the beauty and validity of such a possibility.
While Scripture says there’s really “nothing new under the sun,” it also holds out the real promise and possibility of a “new birth.” This very notion addresses a change so radical it can only be likened to being “born again.” Becoming a new person, with new goals, new opportunities, new ambitions. It speaks of how, through Christ, we can walk in newness of life.”
So, while we dwell a bit on the passing of another year into history, how can we help being just a bit nostalgic? And while we reflect, it’s quite natural that we look ahead to a brand New Year. . . filled with dangerous opportunities, exciting possibilities.
Who knows? Perhaps through faith you could become a brand New You?
You friend, brother and fellow student…and God’s servant, ~donkimrey
* Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:21-26 “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.”