New Year, New Creation
A devotional by Karen Marstaller
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
– Isaiah 43:18-19a (ESV)
Whenever a new year rolls around, our hopes rise.
We want things to be different, to be better than last year, and so we dive into our self-driven improvements. Our resolutions sound remarkably like those from years past: lose weight, eat more vegetables, exercise more. We’ve all made them, and some of us have become healthier people because of them. But God’s way of making something new looks a little different from our way. He always focuses on our hearts.
When Jesus Christ came to earth, His aim was the cross, to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sinful selves. But there was more, so much more that He came to do. He showed us how to live life abundantly (John 10:10)! In all of Christ’s teachings, He points us to joyful, fulfilling life under the tender care of our Father in Heaven.
An archaic word “lovingkindness” accurately describes God’s perfect love for us. Not only is our Heavenly Father supportive, caring, and nurturing, He is also kind. His vast love for us is seen in His kindness. Sometimes His actions in our lives are revealed in circumstances that don’t always seem like kindness, but God wants our hearts to be transformed. He’s doing a “new thing” as Isaiah wrote, and sometimes His kindness is revealed in what may seem like a terrible ordeal.
Several years ago, my back suddenly “went out” just a couple of days before Christmas. Lying flat for the holidays was not on my agenda. Within days I was on a walker. School started back in January, and I wasn’t at my post. My classroom was given to a marvelous substitute, so my students were fine, but I wasn’t. In fact, anything but "fine" described the situation.
Staring at the ceiling didn’t do any good, so I started praying. That’s when I began to understand my Heavenly Father a little better. The time reading His Word and praying for people who needed His touch (which included me) brought me closer to Him and deepened my relationship with Him. During those days of solitude, I learned how kind He is. He taught me how to trust Him as my Father, something I’d never experienced.
The next few months were sometimes grueling, yet I look back now and realize how much He changed me. Yes, I had to go through physical therapy, and yes, I had to learn how to walk all over again. Same dilapidated body. Completely new heart.
God’s tender care and concern for us never changes, but He’s always ready to do something different in order to lead us into closer relationship with Him. We can trust His character, even when our vision narrows to a slice of blank ceiling above our heads, looking up from a place of pain and weakness. He’s right there with us, helping us to put an end to the bitterness, the Blame Game, or the countless “What if?” scenarios our minds tend to focus on when we’re hurting.
In Matthew 9:13, Jesus exhibited God’s lovingkindness when He told the religious leaders of His day to learn what it means to exhibit mercy in their ministry and not just legalistic sacrifice. The Pharisees were great proclaimers of sacrificial laws, but they missed Christ’s point. Jesus wants to create new hearts, and new attitudes in us. He wants to do whatever it takes. Sometimes a “new thing” to draw us closer to Him.
This year, my New Year’s resolutions look a little different from my usual ones. I’m asking my Heavenly Father to help me lose judgmental attitudes, to take in only the pure food of His Word the Bible, and to exercise His brand of lovingkindness in the relationships He has placed in my life. Lofty goals, for sure, but I’m not going in my own strength. The Lord of the Universe is doing something new in His time.
Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, help us to let You do Your cleansing work in our hearts. Show us how You want us to live out this New Year 2022. Thank You, Lord. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
Note from Alexis: Karen’s devotional message, especially the part about God working on our hearts, reminded me of Donnie McClurkin's song “Create in Me A Clean Heart”. Listen to it here.
Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers.
She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.
Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.
Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.
You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org