It's that time of year when many of us look forward to a fresh start, a new beginning, and we resolve that this year will be different. We will actually keep those New Year’s resolutions! We really mean it, but most of us will never keep them through the end of January. Why is it so hard to make lasting positive changes when we really desire to better ourselves?
Picture a person carrying a huge rock, walking along a pathway. As he rounds a bend, he notices a large chunk of gold lying on the path. He wants to pick it up, but he won't let go of the rock he’s carrying. So he stands there, desiring the chunk of gold, but his hands aren't free to grasp it. He’s stuck.
This is a picture of many of us as we face the new year. We eagerly desire a new future, a better future, but we can't let go of the past. We depend on the past to tell us who we are, even if we don't like the picture it portrays to us. We carry our old identity, with its limitations and regrets. We can't embrace the future while holding onto our past. It's a strange phenomenon, but most people will cling to what they know—even if they don't like it—rather than risk the possibility of obtaining something better that is unknown to them.
What is the secret to letting go and getting past our past? There’s a wonderful story in Mark 10:46-52 about a man who did exactly that. His name was Bartimaeus, and he was a blind beggar. He just happened to be sitting by the roadside one day when a golden opportunity to change his identity happened: Jesus came by, surrounded by a crowd. When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus, he began to cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people around him told him to be quiet. Lots of people in this situation would bow to peer pressure, but not Bartimaeus. He ignored those voices and cried even louder for Jesus.
When Jesus called for him, Bartimaeus sprang to his feet and threw off his cloak. In doing this, he was letting go of his past and the identity he knew so well, for his cloak identified him as a legitimate beggar. Although he was still blind, Bartimaeus released that identity and confidently went to Jesus. He didn't hang onto his cloak as insurance, just in case he wasn't healed. He was able to receive his future as a sighted person because he got past his past as a blind beggar.
New Years is the time when we’re reminded that the future awaits full of unknown possibilities. They will remain unknown and unrealized as long as we can’t get past our past. We can cycle to this yearly choice point for the rest of our lives and never touch our future, or we can heed the words of the apostle Paul: “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).
We may not know the future, but our Abba God does and He has promised that all things are possible to us if we believe Him. He calls us upward to a new identity in Christ. Will we trust Him enough to let go of our old identity and get past our past?
Be a part of our Sunday services this week at 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM. My good personal friend and HIM Apostle Mark Tubbs will be sharing on being “Transformed by God’s Glory in 2015.”