I truly love the holiday season, Christmas, New Year, it’s all good, and I trust that you had a great one! I love the values this time of the year highlights, families getting together… albeit a challenge at times…, friends reacquainting, and new friendships sparked. I particularly love that Christmas and New Year are so close together, with that weird little period of time in between that was comedically described by a friend as “the time that simply doesn’t exist”. Yet as quickly as the season was upon us, it seems to evaporate, along with those beautiful sentiments and values. It’s a fast food culture, drive up, order, eat on the move, move on! So, into the new year we go, quickly forgetting what just happened.
Taking perspective from the holidays
I believe however that we can carry with us a few key perspectives from Christmas and New Year, that should we implement as truths in our lives, will provide a much sturdier and sustainable base than any run-of-the-mill New Year’s resolution (gotta love those!). Israel was culturally great at this; story telling, passing truths on by reflecting on God’s involvement from the past, and cementing them into their worldview.
Certainly Israel, in their humanity, failed to apply their God stories to their situation many times, turning to idols under the weight of the contextual pressure they faced, but the precept was there. As such there is one perspective that I share with you now, in hope that this year we will turn less to our own idols and more to God, who brings newness of life to any situation, any time of year, lest we like Israel forget what the Lord has already done.
Allow me, just for a minute, to help you think back over the past few weeks. What were some of the things that stood out to you that perhaps should be in your proverbial backpack as you journey into the fresh start of this new year, things that you can draw on quickly when needed?
For me, it was a Facebook memory that popped up. It was a picture post I’d made a year ago that had rocked my world in the best way. It was made after a prayer time with the Lord and a reading from Charles Spurgeon’s book “Holy Spirit Power”. As I read, it was literally one of those statements that stopped my world and expanded my theology in an instant. I put it in my personal faith backpack, even printed it out and pinned it to my wall. I have referred to it many a time when needing to keep my perspective as His rather than mine. Ready for it? Here it is…
“There was one particular instance of creation in which the Holy Spirit was especially more involved. It was the formation of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Charles Spurgeon.
Boom! I had to stop and think that through for a second, a minute, a day, a year. Of course his statement is in reference to Luke 1:35 and Matthew 1:18 (as a starting point), each speaking of the incarnation of Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’.” (Luke 1:35)
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18)
Let’s think BIGGER
Now, these scriptures will have graced many a preacher’s lips over this past season, and when I myself considered how many times I had heard and read them, I couldn’t help but feel a little underprivileged at the rarity of having stopped to actually meditate on what was happening in that moment. Somehow it’s easy for us to breeze over these verses, particularly when we state it simply as the incarnation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In a way, we just throw that out there as a type of side note in the story. We are ok thinking that something happened by His power, as if He provided some kind of lighting bolt, and then something else happened, and poof, we have Jesus. I don’t mean to sound flippant in any way, I simply wish to note how easily we overlook the actual dunamis at work. It’s somehow harder for us to actually sit and consider that the Holy Spirit was in this moment, physically creating the seed of the physical body of Jesus the Word now becoming flesh.
Plainly, the Holy Spirit created the physical body of Jesus, from nothing, He created Him! That’s profoundly powerful!
A new approach to a new start
What then does it mean for us as we consider a new year ahead. Well, like I said, I love that Christmas and New Year blend together in a sense. The new year highlights to us the sense of new beginnings, a fresh start, often a proverbial “line in the sand”, and was this not so perfectly executed in the coming of Christ! Jesus came to us in physical form, offering the ultimate new beginning, the ultimate fresh start, and drew the ultimate line in the sand!
However, we do well to remember that it was outworked by the very One whom Jesus would return the focus to upon His own departure 33 years later, the Holy Spirit. Now, the Godhead is never changing for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and it is this understanding of the unwavering personage of the Holy Spirit, displayed in the incarnation of Jesus, that is available to us daily in this year ahead, if we will invite and allow Him to be.
Certainly the Holy Spirit is the comforter, and certainly He is the One who brings us into all truth. We tend to lean on those aspects of Him, as needed, often after the fact of what we face, but He is also the powerful Creator of the very body of our Savior. With this revelation of His nature we have revealed to us that the Holy Spirit, our constant companion, is the absolute key to our creative endeavors and new starts.
It was this perspective that led me to engage more intentionally with the Holy Spirit, not only “as needed” in times of comfort or teaching, but rather at the outset of every plan and pursuit, asking Him what He desires to create through me and where He wants to feed power to my pursuits. That relationship has proved to be the greatest New Year’s resolution I’ve enjoyed to date.
So, go ahead, ask the Holy Spirit to breath on, inspire, and correct your planning and decision making at the outset of this new year, and during each such moment throughout. It’s sure to bear much fruit!