It’s a New Year
Well, it's here. We've just watched the ball drop in Times Square, and welcomed in 2009. We had a fun time in the Richard home, watching TV, eating popcorn, and playing Uno (Hannah Montana version-yay.) As we sat there passing the evening, 2 of our 4 kids fell asleep. Our 5-year old son Timmy went out like a light, and at 2 minutes to midnight, Machaela (our 9-year old) couldn't wake him, even rolling him across the floor! Gabbie, our almost 7-year old, also crashed, but we woke her in time for our New Year's tradition of a Welch's Sparkling Juice toast. She got one sip, said in a grouchy tone, "Happy New Year", and fell asleep.
This is also the starting block for resolutions. Millions of people the world over today are setting goals for everything from weight loss and eating better, to better money management. These are noble goals, too. The thing is, all to often, our resolutions end up in the dust bin of another year, a tribute to the things we set out to do, but let go by the wayside. Heck, I'm sure that many have forgotten their resolutions before the Times Square cleaning crews have even swept up the confetti!
I have to admit, I've never been one to come up with a list of resolutions. It's not that I don't have anything to change, I just attempt my changes midyear. But the whole "New Year's Resolution" thing speaks to me. For some reason, the whole idea of making a change in one's life reminds me of the Lord Jesus' baptism in the Jordan. Before that fateful day, the Lord was simply making his living as a carpenter. Maybe He built tables and houses. But that was his occupation. Till He knew it was time, that is. That is when he went down to the river where John the Baptist was baptizing people. They were doing it because they were being called to repentance. Yet, Jesus had no sins to repent of. Still, he came to the river and was baptized. Why, one would ask.
Baptism wasn't unheard of then. In fact, if a non-Jewish person wished to convert, it was required that they be baptized. History says that 7 days after a Gentile's circumcision, and a series of interrogations, the new convert was baptized in a pool of flowing water. Symbolically, it showed that the person laid aside their pagan roots and was a son of Israel. Really, it marked a new beginning for that person.
I think that is one reason the the Lord took the plunge. It was the start of a new chapter in the Messiah's life. He wasn't a carpenter any longer. Now He was launching out in His divine role as the Christ, as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. The old carpenter had passed away, and the new Savior had a task to do.
The Jordan seems to be a place of new beginnings. Some centuries before, when the Israelites were about to leave the wildness wandering, they were stopped by the Jordan River. Normally a small river, at this time it overflowed its banks. It was wide, close to a mile. God told Joshua to have the priests, who were carrying the Ark, to dip their feet in river. When they did, God miraculously parted the waters! The priests walked out halfway, and Israel crossed over on a dried up riverbed. Joshua did something interesting. He took 12 stones, and he set them up in the dry riverbed as a memorial. I have to ask why. Once the river began its flow, the memorial would be unseen. The Bible doesn't go into detail, but I think Joshua had in mind a new beginning. The old complaining spirit was gone, and the new spirit of conquest had come. They were no longer bitter people ranting about the desert, but faith-filled people confident in their God. The Jordan marked their new beginning.
We have various Jordan times in our lives. I think we can view January 1st as one of them. It's a time to start fresh and embark on a life that blesses God. Not that I want to pull out old fads and ideas, but I think it's a time for us to get more "Jabezed" with our lives-praying and desiring and reaching for more for the glory of God!