The New Year can be a great time for a fresh start. That’s why 45 percent of people in North America make New Year’s resolutions. The problem is that by June—six months down the road—only 54 percent will have kept their resolutions, and the percentage drops to a dismal 8 percent by December!
Part of the problem is that while new beginnings can be easy, leaving behind old practices can be hard. Before the Israelites could experience a fresh start in the Promised Land, they had to leave two old things behind: flesh and old ways. God commanded all the young men to be circumcised, for their fathers had turned from Canaan in fear and then neglected to circumcise their sons in the wilderness. So the lack of circumcision represented their lack of faith and obedience, both of which dishonored God, and had to be left behind before they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 5:6-9).
But that’s not all the Israelites had to do. They had to leave old ways behind. Joshua 5 marked the end of manna, the mysterious heavenly food that God had daily provided (Joshua 5:12). Eating manna wasn’t sinful, but it had been the way He fed the Israelites in the wilderness. Now they were in Canaan and God was providing for them in a new way—through the fruit and crops of the land. So they had to leave the manna behind.
I often forget this idea—that all new beginnings start with leaving old things behind. Paul made this clear in Ephesians 4:22-24, where he called the church to put off their old self and put on the new. And in Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus called us to leave our old lives behind, take up our cross, and follow Him. So whenever we look forward to a new beginning, God leads us to remember what we also must leave behind!
Do you ever find yourself praying or yearning for a fresh start in life? What has held you back from that fresh start in the past?
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”