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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy - Thank God for a fresh start
Larry Sheehy mug
Larry Sheehy

One of the more popular shows currently on the small screen is "American Pickers," starring business partners Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. They travel the country in their large van, searching through barns, back yards - literally anywhere they can find old pieces of what most would call junk but that they think they can sell in their two Antique Archaeology stores. I could be wrong, but it seems a safe bet that neither Mike nor Frank got very excited as kids about Christmas or birthday parties, as both normally include gifts that are new rather than old.

Lots of people are like that. Like many, I enjoy wandering through junk stores occasionally, just to see what's there; you may be the same way. Nostalgia can be a strong sentiment, whether in people, places, things or events.

That being said, those who don't care at all for new things can fit in a pretty small boat. Newness has its own natural attraction. It is hopeful and exciting, and at the same time, it can be demanding.

The practice of New Year's celebrations is thought to have begun sometime around 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). More recently, the well-known author "Unknown" has captured in the modern poem "A New Leaf" the spirit of an important and inescapable truth about newness and the new year:

He came to my desk with a quivering lip;
The lesson was done;
"Dear Teacher, I want a new leaf," he said,
"I have spoiled this one."
I took the old leaf, torn and blotted,
And gave him a new one, all unspotted,
And into his sad eyes smiled:
"Do better now, my child!"
I came to the Throne with a trembling heart;
The year's work was done:
"Dear Father, I want a new year," I said,
"I have spoiled this one."
He took the old year, torn and blotted,
And gave me a new one, all unspotted,
And into my sad heart smiled:
"Do better now, my child."

Every new year, by its very nature, is an opportunity to start over. Admittedly, this is a psychological opportunity to some degree. But that doesn't make it any less real or diminish its importance. Without the prospect of beginning again, many, if not most, efforts would die in the trash heap of failure. Most businesses fail in their first year. Only those that begin again have a chance to succeed. This truism is seen in virtually every area of life.

Becoming a Christian doesn't guarantee one will reach heaven.

"Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

"I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

However, some are afraid to begin the Christian life because they're afraid they can't be faithful. Well, no one can on his or her own!

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 has several lessons for Bible students. For our purpose here, the most important is the picture of the loving father as he ran to meet his returning son and welcome him home. He could have refused his return or accepted him - as the prodigal had thought to request - as a hired servant. But no! He took him back as his son and gave notice of his return with a party.

Whether the new is that of the year, the day or the moment, let us pray that God will help us to see it for what it is - a marvelous opportunity to do his will!