I woke on New Year’s Day to be greeted by a sink full of last year’s dishes. It was as though my own kitchen was mocking me; reminding me that whatever grand and optimistic ideas I might have about resolutions, changes and fresh starts I might have, I can’t escape last year that easily. It’s true that a new year brings a sense of hope and excitement – and for many of us, presents an opportunity to begin fresh. And yet, I’m hindered by the reality that my dishes are still in the sink; my habits die hard, and last year’s challenges and problems won’t go quietly. So what does the Bible have to offer when it comes to fresh starts and dirty dishes?
The book of Ezekiel in the Bible contains messages originally written for a group of people who had lost all hope; their nation had been conquered and its inhabitants taken captive. They needed more than a New Year’s resolution. Ezekiel contains the message that despite what the people were experiencing, God is in the business of restoring and healing the broken. Here is what God had to say to them:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:25-26).
God offers them more than a new start – He offers a new heart. And if your resolve is flagging and the excitement of the new year has begun to sink among your dirty dishes, the offer still stands. Hundreds of years later, Jesus stood in a crowd and cried out the invitation that if anyone is thirsty – deep, soul thirst – then they should come to him to find ‘living’ waters. May this year be a year in which you find hope, joy and the new start and quenching water that Jesus offers.