There is a great feeling around a Christmas tree. The kid’s faces are
eager and their parents love to sit back and watch while the presents are
unwrapped. When I was a child I wished that the same good feelings would last
through the year. As you could easily guess, they never did.
But we wish, don’t we, that the more pleasant experiences of life would
last a bit longer. Perhaps we make a vow that as the new year comes on us that
things will be different, that our luck may change. We want the unspoiled
future that we move into may remain unspoiled. Some dreams may at last come
true. Perhaps we may get a job, or a better job, perhaps a new romance may
I can only hope that you the reader will have good days ahead of you at a time
when there’s not much promise of that peace on earth, goodwill toward
men that we hear about at Christmas time.
We are carriers
Vague hopes and wishful
thinking are notoriously disappointing. The trouble is, we are all carriers.
We can carry a virus across the threshold into the future. Something
we’ve picked up in the past that can’t easily be shaken off.
I’m talking about habits, characteristics, guilt, a sense of failure,
broken down relationships — that kind of thing. These are the things
that ensure that the future will become like the past. It is what lies within
us that makes or breaks our happiness much more than the circumstances we are
facing. We so often spend time trying to change everything but ourselves. In
so doing we miss the way.
Masses of people are caught between a past they would rather forget and a
future which threatens to be more of the same. I sympathize with the feeling.
But it calls for something more than good advice or better luck. It comes down
to this: what we are by nature needs to be changed. Yes, ordinary people like
you and me need to be changed from within. Otherwise, we will continue to dash
our own hopes and expectations.
But who or what, can change our nature? Only God can do it. He can place a new
set of active principles within us. I have experienced it as have countless
One clear statement in the Bible is: “If anyone is in Christ he is a new
creation; the old has gone, the new has come”
(2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17).
To be in Christ is a tremendous privilege. None of us deserves it, just as we
did not deserve to have him come in to the world for us at the first Christmas
and then to die in our place on the cross. But when we are in him we will
carry something new across the threshold into the future. A life cleansed from
sin and both the desire and the power to be different within.
We are not made perfect, nor is life problem free, but the new has come, and
no-one who has it would trade it for the old.