Happy New Year, with emphasis on “New”

Every year our extended family gathers for a Christmas meal and a “grab bag” gift exchange. The location of the celebration rotates among family members, and the hosting sibling sets the guidelines for the gift exchange.

Most years, there’s a strong level of tradition and comfort on how this all plays out.

Until I host.

You see, I’m a change junkie. I like to constantly learn, do and experience new things.

And so naturally, there’s a twist in the game rules. Or as one relative put it, “So how are you going to piss off people this year?”

Yes, change is fun.

It explains why I feel driven to create New Year’s resolutions.

Last year, I chose to journey with Father Mike Schmitz and his “Bible in a Year,” podcast. It provided an opportunity to listen to the entire Bible as well as Father Schmitz’ daily commentary—which is so good. Because I’m a reader, I also printed the daily schedule so that I could first read the scripture passages.

It’s been an intense undertaking. Reading the daily passages took 15 minutes. I highlighted verses that spoke to me so that I could return to those chapters later for continued reflection. Listening to the podcast consumed about another 30 minutes. Imagine making room in your life, every day, for something new that takes 45 minutes.  

Life is busy.

By October, I was about seven weeks behind. Simple math dictated it would take one-and-a-half hours to complete a daily reading and podcast, as well as gain on one. Three hours would be required to gain on three.

Every free moment at home was spent reading the Bible. Every minute in the car was spent listening to the podcast. Fortunately, there were some two and three hour trips in there to visit grandchildren. Big gains were made on road trips. After some serious Bible-bingeing, I got caught up in late December. It’s now December 31st, and I’ve completed the “Bible in a Year,” under the guidance of Father Schmitz.  

Discipline plus goals equals accomplishment. Being stubborn helps, too.

And although the “Bible in a Year” consisted of daily reading and listening tasks, those tasks compounded to create greater revelations and spirituality.

The point is that growth cannot happen without some kind of new effort or activity. And life, without growth, seems like a lack of gratitude for each 365 days that God gifts us.  

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John found themselves in grave danger with Jewish authorities for proclaiming the new and good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. With the threat of imprisonment looming, it would have been easy for Peter and John to halt their activity. But they responded, “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” And instead of praying for personal safety, they asked God to, “…take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness…”  

Make it impossible to live in 2022, exactly as you did in 2021. You needn’t have the boldness of an apostle—just a recognition that this is your time and your chance at some type of newness.

Cheers to living, and not just existing.

Happy New Year, with an emphasis on “New.”

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