I am writing this on January 1, 2022. That means we have a new year in front of us, and everyone I know is tired of the old one. We had an endless stream of bad news about our health, and the health of the economy, and political arguments.
For me, the news every day was a toxic mix.
This morning, I had text messages from friends and a relative, and they feel the same as me. There is not enough optimism at the beginning of this year.
We need something new, and better.
It might comfort you to know that God thought of this first: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)
Those are the instructions from a higher source, the highest source, when we get lost in things that happen around us. It is easy to get lost in 2021. If you are like me, the New Year’s resolution that we need is a complete restart, not just a new diet plan, or better study habits. We need that new future that God promised.
So, what does it take to start over?
A new start is just a conversation topic until we find an example of someone who did it.
Have you heard of Steph MacLeod?
He is a musician who lost his way and needed a start-over. I’m not being critical, he is very honest about his time as a homeless addict, lost in drugs and alcohol. Steph MacLeod is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and I can tell you from my circle of friends and family, Scottish people have a cultural problem with alcohol. I don’t touch the stuff.
His sad story is not all dismal. At one time he was at a resort in Thailand, drinking heavily, and his mother came to rescue him. She took her son home, and two days later, a tsunami from the ocean smashed against the shore and destroyed most of the resort. He missed that bad news.
Possibly, his mother saved his life twice. After returning home, Steph MacLeod got himself into a Christian hostel for people like him. In that place, his old life ended, and his new life started.
Years ago, I was the Assistant Director of an inner-city “Mission.” Don’t be fooled by the title, it was a tough job and I didn’t see any success stories like Steph MacLeod. When you see homeless people where you live, you can know that they are probably using dangerous drugs, and alcohol. The result is simple; they die in a few years. I saw too much of that, and I left the work. Some memories are painful for me now.
I am very happy to know that a man named Steph MacLeod found his way out.
If you want to know how this start-over happened, an eye-witness account is better than anything I could tell you:
The man is humble and honest about his personal history, and that is probably why he could start over, and why his life is so much better now.
It is a very inspiring story, but there is one problem; if you are reading this you are probably not a homeless addict. It may be hard to apply the Steph MacLeod method to your life, and to mine. We have to relate, somehow.
I was wondering about this, and I found the answer, on the radio, yesterday.
Yes, we can all start over.
Someone was speaking on my car radio, and he talked about root and fruit. He was probably a radio preacher; this was not a gardening show. The root is the wrong decisions that we make, and the fruit is the consequences that we bring on ourselves. We are good at judging the final outcome ‘fruit’ and then we can feel good about ourselves, because we didn’t go that low. At least not yet.
Consequences are not fair, and we see better when we see our ‘root’ decisions. I have met some terrible people who don’t sleep under a bridge.
This is harsh, but it is in the Bible:
Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people who do not resist you. (James 5 1 to 6)
Steph MacLeod was caught early, by the fruit of his decisions, his roots. Some of us have to wait longer. The good news is, if we are humble enough, God can forgive the roots, and make us new. We can all start over this year, with new roots and new fruit to follow.
I hope we all find this truth for 2022: