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As I sit down to type this, 2019 is merely hours away. There is something exciting about a new year, the concept of a fresh start, a clean slate, doing things differently. Yet, there is nothing magical about the transition from December 31 to January 1 each year. According to a January 3, 2017 Business Insider article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Reality is that your life (and mine) is not going to be all that different tomorrow or next week or next month, from what it is right now. While making resolutions and gritting one’s teeth determined to make it work, this time, can perhaps have some noble intentions, the reality is that the more we focus on ourselves and make a list of laws we must keep in order to be successful, or be happy, or whatever our bottom line goal is, the more we will fail.
I see my life differently these days. Not just on December 31, but every day. Goals are important, having a direction to move in is important, but I know full well it is not possible for me to live these goals, this direction, perfectly. I am not here to become a better me, I am here because God placed me here. It is that simple.
In the Tanakh (Old Testament) there are so many laws. Religious Jews have added to these laws with the The Talmud consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah refers to the oral law that, according to tradition, was given alongside the written Torah. The Gemara is rabbinic commentary on the Mishnah. 613 laws to follow! That is a heavy weight to bear!
Now I am Jewish however I am not simply going to point out the Jewish law, look at Catholicism or actually any organized religion and you will find an endless list of dos and don’ts, religious practices, traditions, rules, requirements, how tos.
But hey, God is sovereign, He created each one of us, He knew we would each go our own way. Isaiah 53:6 “We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us.”
Who is the “he” in “his prayers”? In context with the rest of the Tanakh, it is clearly the Messiah, our savior, the One God sent to save us from ourselves. You can read The Big Picture of this concept here.
I see my life differently now because I seek not to focus on myself, but to focus on God. I have been sick with Flu type A and then a secondary infection of bronchitis since this past Wednesday and I will say it has been a rough bout of illness. I never before was a fan of the flu shot, after this experience, while the flu shot is not 100% against every flu virus, it certainly is more protective than going without. Considering how physically horrible I have felt and still feel, it is very easy for me to default onto the pity pot. But God. Through all of this there has been such a strong reminder from Him that while of course this illness is not His perfect will for me at this time, it is His permissive will. He is allowing it for His purposes, the multilayered, multifaceted purposes that they might be. Does that make me angry at Him? Not at this stage of my life because I understand the meaning of the word sovereignty. God is in complete control of every molecule of existence, out there and in here. My definition of good may not be His definition of good but He knows the full scope of a situation meanwhile I know just my own little corner of it. And in focusing on God and that for whatever reasons He is allowing this situation, I have been able to relax and listen, despite the cough, the pain, the exhaustion, and hear what God has to say in many different areas. Not that I am enjoying this illness at all, but it has actually been a really special time.
So on that note, I wish you a happy new year! May you grow deeper in the knowledge of God’s grace, wherever you are on this journey called life.