I broke my New Year’s resolution on January 2. It was my daughter’s birthday, and with everything else going on that day, I just didn’t get in the 30 minutes of decluttering that I’d vowed to do each day. Understandable, sure, but what a downer all the same. I didn’t even make it two days into the new year before I broke my resolution. So much for a fresh start.
People love a fresh start, and January is a perfect time for one. A new year brings the promise of a new beginning; the potential for change. People make resolutions about exercise, diet, better sleep, time management, and more. But all too often, New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside. New habits are hard to establish, and old ones difficult to break. We’re barely a week into January, and many people have already broken their resolutions.
But why wait for January 1 to make a fresh start? A resolution for a new year is a fine idea, but also very daunting. Very few people will actually be able to keep a resolution for an entire year. Why not make small changes weekly or monthly? And even if you do break a resolution, that doesn’t have to be the end. Just because I missed a day of decluttering doesn’t mean I have to give up. In fact, I made it up the next day by doing two 30-minute increments then.
Regardless of where you stand with your New Year’s resolution—even if you didn’t bother to make one—there’s one area where you are guaranteed a fresh start each and every day. No matter how badly you’ve messed up, no matter how many times you’ve already failed in the past, God is all about new beginnings and fresh starts. He daily forgives your sins and clothes you with Christ’s robe of righteousness.
The catechism explains this beautifully in the section on baptism. Martin Luther asks the question, “What does such baptizing with water indicate?” He answers: “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever” (emphasis added).
The Bible is full of references to God’s abundant forgiveness. Lamentations 3:22-23 assures us, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Psalm 103:2-3, 11-12 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases… For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” God promises in Isaiah 43:25, “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” He even goes so far as to promise us a new heart: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
That’s a pretty impressive fresh start, and it’s yours, dear child of God. Confess your sins to God and trust that He has indeed removed them from you, as far as the east is from the west. Trust that He has given you a new heart and a new spirit. Every day is a fresh start, no matter what happened the previous day. Whether you’ve kept your New Year’s resolution or not, trust that God has resolved to forgive and redeem you, and that’s a resolution that will never be broken.