Hope of the New Year

Here is a fact you may not know. I am sentimental. Very sentimental!

Perhaps nothing makes that point quite as much as the small gift tag from Christmas 1992 that I have tucked away in a drawer. As I remember, this tag was not attached to a very memorable gift.  But this tag is in my mother's own handwriting.  It simply says To Bonnie, Love Mom and Dad.  She passed away the following February.  This tag marks the last of the forty Christmases we shared together.

So it comes as no surprise to my family that I tend to become sentimental, okay, pensive as New Year's Eve approaches.  I want to hold on to those precious memories of the past twelve months, and yet, I long for the fresh start the New Year brings.  I have to confess that in my desire to learn from my past mistakes, I often take them to heart a little too much ~ rehashing them again and again in my mind.

I want this year ~ 2010 ~ to be a redemptive one year!

How will God redeem my failings and transform me into a better wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and mentor?

With all honesty, I am very hopeful this New Year's Eve.  I am relying on His power that redeems all things to Himself. I am resting in His promise to restore and reshape me for His good pleasure; to re-establish my path; and to renew my thoughts with His thoughts.

As I read the prayers of the Daily Office for December 31st, it included the wonderful story of the healing of the crippled man found in The Gospel of John. Here is the story in the Apostle John's words as it appears in the Book of Common Prayer:

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids ~ blind, lame, and paralyzed ~ waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. ~ John 5:1-15

What an incredible story of transformation! Jesus not only restored this man’s health, but redeemed his future ~ Take up your bed and walk . . . sin no more!  The man did not leave his bed behind, but took it with him, perhaps as a reminder of the transformation he had experienced.  The man obeyed and took those first courageous steps of faith as he walked out into the city of Jerusalem on his own two feet ~ for perhaps the first time!  The man was truly transformed ~ from the inside out as he was encouraged to sin no more.

And yet, as I re-read the story, I find Jesus' question to the man a little strange.  Why would Jesus ask a man who had been invalid for 38 years if he wants to be healed?  Isn't the answer pretty obvious?  I think Jesus asks the question because Jesus knows that lifestyles are hard to change.  We tend to be quite comfortable, thank you with how we use our time, how we spend our resources, and how we treat one another.  In many ways, we have become invalids ~ stuck in our own bed of old habits and traditions.

I want this story of redemption found in John 5, to be my New Year’s story!  I want Jesus to restore to health to those areas of my life that He knows need healing.  I want Him to redeem my future.   May I Him with all of it, and be willing to take some courageous steps of faith as I walk where He leads me and become who He wants me to be!

Yes, I am quite hopeful this New Year's Eve ~ as I fix my gaze on the His redeeming love ~ that 2010 will be a redemptive year .