We like things new. The delight of witnessing little babies take their first breaths and see the world for the first time, a new gift from a spouse, the smell of a new car: we enjoy it all. Then there are those times when we are beginning something that is especially “new.” It may be the case we have moved to a new town, started a new job or new school, or starting again after our past lives have been shattered.
We call this “turning over a new leaf.” This is entering a new phase of our journey of life. This is a road not yet traveled. Without my GPS, I would be absolutely lost if I am going somewhere I have never been. I need guidance. I need a roadmap. What are some things that can help us in entering uncharted territory in our lives?
As a Christian, first of all, I have to remember to whom I belong. I love Pixar movies. Apparently some others do as well. My favorite is the Toy Story series. Woody is Andy’s oldest and most trusted toy. At pivotal moments in the story, when faced with a difficult decision, Woody will contemplatively lift up his plastic boot and be reminded that it was Andy that wrote his name on his boot to signify ownership. He belonged to Andy. When his faithfulness to Andy was tested, this fact motivated him to do the right thing.
If we are Christians, we have to remember to whom we belong. Paul reminded Christians that they were “bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The price was nothing less than the precious blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28).
Here is how Jesus said Christians glorify God: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Considering the incalculable and incomprehensible price that has been paid for salvation, how devoted should a Christian be in glorifying God in all they do?
Secondly, we have to remember the ground we have already trod. I spent four years in the Reno-Tahoe area of Nevada. While I was there, they had one of the worst snowstorms they ever had. I had the “opportunity” to drive on snow and ice for the first time.
Having never driven in snow before, I was being challenged. It was not long until I found myself making “snow angels” in my Explorer, spinning in circles on the highway. Thank God we did not hit anyone and did not spin off the road. I learned from that experience and am far more cautious in driving in similar conditions.
If we are wise, we will learn from our mistakes and want to build on successes. God thought it was very important for people to be constantly reminded of the past. He wanted His people to remember His gracious and faithful actions for them in history. He also wanted them to remember and be warned of negative examples.
Paul wrote the things written in the Scriptures were “written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). In highlighting the negative examples of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul said “these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians 10:6 NASB). If we want to be successful in the future, we must learn from the past.
Lastly, in turning over a new leaf, we have to remember where we are going. We are interesting creatures. Sometimes we pay so much attention to things that are of so little consequence. Many of us are “majoring in minors.” Sometimes we give a great deal of attention to things that are worthy pursuits at the expense of things that are far more important.
I attended my brother’s college graduation last Spring. We all know how early you have to arrive to get a decent seat. The graduation began. There was a family of about twenty that came in late. They were very noticeable because they all had bright yellow t-shirts on with their graduate’s picture on the front.
The level of planning, organization, expense and coordination to get the shirts was impressive. I’m not criticizing the shirts, but it seemed a little foolish to me that they would put so much effort into getting them, yet they could not get to the graduation on time. There were no seats. They had to stand off to the side where they could not even see the stage to watch their graduate walk across.
We do this sometimes in our lives. We put a lot of effort into things that are nice but sometimes forget the things that are truly important.
Satan is a master of distraction and he is leading us around by the nose. Our schedules are jam packed full of activities that are nice, but not necessary and we barely even spend time with our own families. Paul kept His Christian walk and faithfulness to God in the pole position of his life. He said he presses “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). To be successful in turning over a new leaf, we must remember where we are going.
May God help us all in “new” areas of life to live lives that glorify Him.
Torrey Clark is the preacher for the church of Christ Northside (www.churchatlagrange.org) and host of the weekly Christian worldview talk show, Culture Shock (www.thelightnetwork.tv/shows). Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-812-9950.