Alexis Patterson, GFC Lutz

What a year it has been. I don’t know about you, but it has been a year full of ups and downs. Transparently, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve had many disappointments. My hopes were set on 2021 being an amazing year. So what in the world was going on that I would find myself struggling to keep hope alive? The reality is time doesn’t reset because a new year comes. The pandemic and my unemployment from 2020 didn’t just disappear at midnight of 2021. Though times were tough, at the heart of all my struggles, 2021 was an amazing year.

You see, in reality I gained so much. Much of what I gained was intangible. It wasn’t materialistic and it wasn’t always in the way I thought my answered prayers would come. It was so much more! All that was given to me was a fresh perspective and peace. It was much more than I ever could have prayed for because though 2021 was a new year, God was and is the same great God He’s always been. Unlike a fairy tale where things change when the clock strikes midnight, He remains consistent. Consistently great. Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you set your internal clock to change with the new year. Or maybe you set your mind on a shift that can only take place with the fresh start of January. It’s okay to want to take a new approach to life following a new year and also know that God is able to renew you a fresh start whenever you dedicate your new start to Him.

Ezekiel, the prophet during a time when it seemed all hope was lost, had a message of hope to the captives of Babylon, God’s people. He spoke of a new heart and a new spirit within God’s people. The captives of Babylon had started to assimilate to the ways of the idolatrous culture leaving God very much out of their lives. They needed to be reunited and renewed to the same great God who had kept them all the years before. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” -Ezekiel 36:26. This reminds me that no matter how things look right now, no matter what condition my heart is in, God can give me and you a fresh start. He’s the same great God He’s always been.

What do we do now? How can we dedicate our new start to God? Answering those questions will make so much more sense if we use these action items to approach our fresh start with confidence in God.

1. Enter each new day giving thanks to God: Gratitude is flattering to God. It’s the beginning of a new heart! When we set our focus on how great God is, our perspectives change and we see more of God working through our lives and our circumstances.
2. Spend time with God daily: Spending time with God will and can look different for each of us. With your talents and/or time, glorify God by demonstrating your love for Him through your actions. It can be through your worship, praise, giving back, parenting, working, quality time with friends, etc.

3. Get to know God through His word: Read your Bible!

It’s simple and with all the tools at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever before. Read about what God says about life, love, relationships, you and so much more. A part of putting a new spirit in you, is you listening to God. And to hear Him best, you must read the Bible.
4. Accept the gift of God’s sufficient grace: Accepting God’s grace means you live in His grace and when you live in His grace, you naturally learn to give grace. Grace is unmerited favor. You didn’t earn it, that’s why it’s a gift. Grace allows you to open up in humility knowing that you have something you don’t deserve so you share with others. You take life for its advantages and not its disadvantages. You see opportunities and not obstacles. You move in compassion and not judgement. And like an epidemic, it spreads.

God is imploring us to start new with Him. He wants to give us a new heart and a new spirit. As for me, it’s what I ask for daily. There is nothing I take on without including God; not my day, not a task, and not a struggle! This new year, embrace the same great God we’ve always had. Allow God to create in you a new heart and a new spirit.

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1 Comment

  1. So good!


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