But you [the Lord] remain the same, and your years will never end.
– Psalm 102:27 (NIV)
I have to admit that I’ve never been big on the idea of New Year’s. Half the time when I was younger, I would be in bed well before midnight, hoping to be asleep before the neighborhood fireworks really got going. I rarely make resolutions, and any resolutions I do make tend not to last. There’s a whole cultural following around the idea of “new year, new me” that I don’t think I could ever invest myself in, because it just feels too different from how I’ve lived.
I spend most of my reflective time looking at things from the perspective of continuity. Everything that happens originated in something that happened before. The past bears all the markers of what is happening in the present. In some ways, there is as little distinction between last year and this year as there is between yesterday and today. I can’t really wrap my head around the idea of spontaneously turning over a new leaf once the calendars change, because to me it’s always a process, and sometimes the process is slow enough that it hardly looks like change at all.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for the idea that it’s a new day, and every new day is another chance to move closer to God. To pray more, to worship more, to love more. These are good things, things that we always need to be striving toward. And maybe the turn of a new year is exactly the motivation that a lot of people need to start moving closer to God again. But for others—myself included—it feels a little ungrounded, uncertain. And if “New Year, New Me” doesn’t turn out as well as we hoped, it feels discouraging. There needs to be a continuity, something to fall back on if the change isn’t fast or isn’t easy. That’s where “New Year, Same God” brings hope.
Praise God, then, that He does not change, that He has never changed. For as much as the world shifts and moves around us, and often we along with it, He has always been constant and faithful, and His plans have never wavered. If you, like me, can’t find enough strength in yourself to abruptly become the person God wants you to be, fear not. A new year need not be the only time for change. It happens continually, often in ways we can’t even see until we look back and notice how far we’ve come. Trust that He is steadfast and always leading you closer to Him, and you will be amazed at the places you can actually go, and the person you can actually be.
I, for one, at the turn of the new year, find it a great comfort and source of strength that God has never wavered in His love for me. In days when I have loved Him much, in days when I have loved Him little, and in days when I had loved Him not at all, His own love for me has been steadfast, constant, unceasing through every new year and every new day.