I always remember being quite disappointed the day after my birthday because on that day I didn’t feel any different than I did the day before!
You, like me, probably have felt let down after all the hype up to a “special” day only to discover that everything proceeded just as before. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, etc., etc. are all promoted and hyped by the advertising companies and the media we consume to set unreasonable expectations for what we should experience when the day arrives.
I’m sure you realize that these “special” days are in realty just an accounting device. They are just a way to slap a mnemonic label on a day to assist our memories when we wish to recall them.
Ever since our earliest ancestors, looking at the night sky, discovered that after about 360 days the stars they could see when they looked straight up repeated their positions, and they could predict what kind of weather would follow — Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall) or Winter — the idea of a “year” became useful. When your existence depends on knowing when to plant crops and when to harvest them, it is very important to have some idea of where you are in the yearly cycle. For the Jewish people, after the harvest came the festivals of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In our calendar these days fall toward the end of September.
We know today that this celestial timekeeping is because our planet has made a full orbit around the sun and come back to (almost) the same position in space.
Other time-keeping devices were also available in the heavens. Sunrise to sunset became a “day”, sunset to sunrise defined a “night”, a full cycle of the moon’s phases became a “month”.
Today we are able to divide time into mind-bogglingly small intervals that allow us to read these words on a computing device or set the GPS in your car to take you to a destination.
These repetitions of time seem to be both inevitable and entirely predictable, so much so that in the 16th and 17th centuries scientists, mathematicians and philosophers were sure that God had created a great “clockwork” in the heavens that He had wound up, started and left to run indefinitely without intervention. This was called “scientific determinism” and ruled philosophical thought for the next three centuries. It seemed that creation was a “one and done” (or is that “is and done”?) event not needing further enhancement.
I won’t bore or baffle you with the details of how modern science's quantum theory and relativity theory still put the explanations of how God did what He did beyond our understanding, but that’s where we are now.
It seems that the more we understand, the more we understand that we really don’t understand! How did the Creator, Preserver and Governor of the universe bring it into existence and tune it so precisely that the slightest variation in a few fundamental parameters would have inevitably resulted in chaos rather than the beautiful handiwork that so inspires us?
And if we examine the scriptures, we discover that far from winding up a clockwork and sitting back, God is most definitely not done, but is continually creating! For example:
“When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.” Psalm 104:30 NLT
I encourage you to read all of Psalm 104 for a picture of God’s continuous creation. Here is a link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+104&version=NLT
God continues to create. We see the evidence all around us in plants and animals, fields and mountains, and even volcanoes and earthquakes. But more importantly we see it in the transformation of God’s ultimate creation — us!
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
God continually creates on our behalf:
‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”’ Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT
Jesus himself confirmed that God diligently continues the work of creation:
‘But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”’ John 5:17 NLT
So as we slap a different numeric label on this coming orbit of the sun (2024), let us not just see an opportunity to renew our gym membership, or join WeightWatchers, or discontinue a bad habit, or start a good habit, worthy as all those may be. Let us realize that at every moment God has created, and is creating, something new and wonderful for our lives. There is always something new to be discovered about God’s grace and mercy that will further our understanding of his majesty and glory and enrich our lives.
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT
So, the past is truly prolog for the newness of God’s creation in us. While it is good to recognize it’s newness on January 1st, it is equally true on any and every day of the year! Let’s wake up each morning expecting God to show up and show off!
Happy New Year!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://www.salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/?category=Bible%20Study