The Miracle of Second Chances:
This Is Why We Celebrate New Years!
By David Outten, Production Editor
Why do we celebrate New Year’s Day?
What’s so new about January 1st?
Think of it like this: It’s a time when we emotionally put the past behind us and start fresh. Sometimes, we make resolutions about how something’s going to be better. Sometimes, we just want to emotionally declare an end to a difficult segment of our life.
The key concept of New Year’s is the opportunity to begin again.
There is no more profound way to begin again than to give your life to Jesus Christ. Jesus described it as being born again. All the mistakes of your past are forgiven – wiped clean from God’s Book of Life. In return, you get a new life guided by the Holy Spirit of God.
Sometimes, those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord slide back into worldly habits and emotions and feel the weight of their past. Traditional New Year’s imagery includes an old man with a cycle and sometimes a ball and chain. The symbol of the New Year is a baby – a fresh life brimming with opportunity.
This New Year’s Day would be a great time for you to experience a two-step miracle.
Jesus explained it with “The Lord’s Prayer” in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
He then explains:
“For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
So, step one is to forgive others and step two is to receive God’s forgiveness.
Consider the impact. The biggest emotional baggage humans carry is the pain of past hurts. Sometimes, other people inflict the pain. Other times, it’s our own making. Either way, we carry it emotionally like a 500 pound backpack filled with bitterness, anger, resentment, embarrassment, shame, and all sorts of destructive, painful emotions.
The miracle of forgiveness is that you give God all the bitterness you hold toward others and He forgives all that you’ve done that’s worthy of shame. You get to put down the entire sack of pain and walk into a new life with amazing peace and joy. You’re free to love even those you used to resent.
Sadly, in this world it’s very easy to pick up the old package of hate and shame and try to carry it again. It’s a challenge not to do this. Forgiveness, after all, is not forgetfulness. The memory is not wiped clean of what you or others have done. What’s needed is a firewall of forgiveness so that, when bad memories come to mind, a powerful commitment to forgiveness should send them back to the trash can.
This New Year’s Day would be a great day to go see UNBROKEN – the story of Louie Zamperini . If you think you’ve ever had anything to forgive, Louie had more. Louie was brutally tortured in a Japanese prison camp. He came home from the war filled with hate. He drank heavily and had horrible nightmares. His marriage was nearly destroyed. His life appeared to be ruined.
Louie then attended a Billy Graham crusade and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. The nightmares stopped, his marriage was saved and he experienced the ultimate transformation made possible by forgiveness. He went from angry, violent and drunk to one of the sweetest men you’d ever want to meet. He actually returned to Japan and shared forgiveness with many of the prison guards who tortured him.
Imagine 2015 being that kind of year in your life! Imagine giving to God all the anger, resentment, sorrow, and shame you carry in return for peace and joy.
UNBROKEN is a hard movie to watch. It’s hard to believe anyone could even survive such treatment. It’s profoundly inspirational to know Louie Zamperini forgave it. It should inspire us to forgive.
I pray that this New Year’s Day, if you’re struggling with pain, bitterness and shame, you’ll experience the same miracle Louie Zamperini did.
There is no better way to begin a new year than to experience forgiveness – both in the giving and receiving. May God bless you with that miraculous gift.
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