As a child, no matter how much I loved summer vacation,
there was always a tinge of excitement in getting ready
for the new school year: new things to learn, a gradebook
fresh and clean with no sorry grades to have to make up.
New textbooks, new notebooks, newly sharpened long
pencils, and a brand-new box of crayons—not a single one
The beginning of the new calendar year is no different. We
set new goals. New diets. New exercise regimens. New
disciplines. It’s the new “Day One.” Hence, my family
tradition: Cleaning out the house on New Year’s Eve. I have
to admit, it makes me giddy thinking about it—organising
and straightening and unloading what we no longer need.
And doing it together as a family makes it a party, right?
Okay, sometimes it’s a hard sell. I do try to make it fun: the
whole adding-sweet-flavours-to-medicine idea. We put on
music, I give snack breaks, and I don’t complain when they
take short pauses to play ping pong. As long as the pauses
aren’t cruise vacations.
And when it’s all done, that evening’s ringing-in-the-New-
Year celebration is so much sweeter knowing we are starting
the year with a clean house.
I believe it’s a God-given love: the yearning to be a new
creation, uncontaminated by the mess that we make of our
lives.Even in this picture, it seems the gospel “has been
proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” [Col. 1:23] We
long to be made new!
Of course, while I can clean up my own house, I can’t clean
up my own life. Oh, maybe I can for a day. Even two, if I
have incredible willpower. May be. But sooner or later, I
will fall back into my old ways—
growing impatient with my kids,
wanting my own way over my
husband’s, wasting time on
something completely changes me—
completely makes me new. And there
it is! That truth of salvation: 2 Cor.
5:17—”Therefore, if anyone is in
Christ, he is a new creation. The old
has passed away; behold, the new has
come.”Ahh, the comfort in knowing
that, even with all the messes I’ve
made of my life, because of Christ’s
blood, God sees my life’s slate wiped
spotlessly clean; and one day I will
step on heaven’s shores, to an eternity
of perfect new days.
But meanwhile, daily—and
sometimes minute by minute—He
organises and straightens my thoughts
and actions, unloading what I don’t
need because it’s nothing but trash.
For, “the truth is in Jesus, to put
off your old self, corrupt
through deceitful desires, and to put
on the new self, renewed, created after
the likeness of God in true
righteousness and holiness. [Eph. 4:21-24, paraphrased]
Granted, that putting off/putting on can ONLY be done with
Christ. On our own, we tend to get lost and throw the baby
out with the bathwater. One year, after I had given my kids
instructions on separating unnecessary toys from the classic
toys—which I carefully saved year after year for young visitors and future grandchildren—I ran out to do some
shopping. When I got home, I was pleased to find the house
looking spotless. Until I realized WHY it was so spotless.
They had decided that ALL my
classic toys were unnecessary. Hey,
why organise when you can just
unload it all?
No, when we try to clean separate
from Christ, we struggle to recognise
real value and right motives. But with
Him, we are “renewed to a true
knowledge in the image of our
Sometimes it seems like a neverending
process—kind of like how my
kids feel on that last day of the old
year when they’re stuck with dusty
boxes and cleaning supplies. But how
sweet the celebration will be when
midnight comes and we see how He
has cleaned our house. “On that day,
the Lord, the righteous Judge, will
award to me the crown of
righteousness. And not only to me,
but also to all who have loved His
appearing.” [2 Tim. 4:8] We will
stand before Him and find ourselves
in new heavens and a new earth, in
which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet.
Yes, we are a people who love new beginnings, a God-given
trait given to lead us to God Himself. So,
“forgetting what lies behind and straining forward
to what lies ahead, …press on toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)
Happy New Year!
is a freelance writer
and columnist in
where she lives with
her husband David
and five children.
A mother has a natural bond with a child but a father has to build one.