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New Year, Same God by Jessica Kelly

It was the first Sunday of the New Year and I found myself sitting in my usual seat at church, awaiting another message from God’s word. As my pastor opened his Bible, he asked all of us to follow along in our own. We turned to Philippians 3:14, and he read, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He urged every individual in service that morning to apply this verse to their own lives, as we run this race of life.

I think we can all concur that 2020 was a rough year all around. It had ups, and certainly innumerable downs, but the consensus of society was that they were ready to be rid of this awful past year. 2020 was a time filled with strife, hatred, and a noticeable divide in our nation. Nobody could seem to agree on anything, a pandemic spread nationwide, everyone was trapped in their homes for months on end, and their seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Individuals fell into depression, experienced anxiety they may have never felt before, and feared the unknown and unpredictable future. As we move into the year 2021, however, it is vital that we do not hold on to this past time. 365 days have come and gone, and it is time to move forward. In order to progress ahead and receive God’s blessings for our lives, we simply cannot hold on to the grudges, anger, and sadness that came with the year 2020.

Philippians 3:14 is a verse that we should carry with us into the year 2021. Each and every single one of us is running a race, the race of life. What we do with our lives, and how we live for God, is our choice. In order to receive God’s blessings for us, we must run forward, towards the prize, and away from the past. We must keep our eyes on the prize and run towards the finish line. If we continuously look back, we will stumble, fall, and lose the race; we will miss out on everything that God has in store for us in the future.

We can compare this Bible verse to a physical race, or any competition for that matter. During a race, it is vital to keep pushing onward. If an athlete were to look behind him, dwell on his mistakes during the competition, or remember a time that they had failed in the past, it could prevent them from winning the new competition they are taking part in. Similarly, if we as Christians continue to remember and dwell on the misgivings of 2020, our own past mistakes, or the trials we experienced personally, we cannot win our race in 2021. In order for God to continue to work in our lives, we have to let go of the past and press on. We have to do His work, share His gospel, live with kindness and love, and do our best to serve Him and others.

There are a few things that I do personally to continue to run the race of life. Beginning spiritually, I try to do my best to attend church services regularly, tell others about Jesus Christ, read my Bible, and pray. This year I also started teaching a Sunday school class, something that is a huge blessing to me. As I teach my students each week, I realize that there is still so much that I can learn from our Bible stories as well. Additionally, writing for “The Heart of the Hall” and running our social media platforms has been an uplifting part of my life this past year. I hope that others learn about God and faith through these resources and our amazing team. In order to run the race of life, we have to follow God’s will for us and do our best to serve Him first and others. When we are following his plan for our life, or our race, and not our own, we will be blessed more than we could imagine.

Aside from this, I run the race of life by doing my best to set goals, stay positive, and run forward instead of looking behind me. There are some things from the past that I cannot change, and I just have to accept that and move forward. If I let those mistakes, misgivings, or failures stick with me, I can never move on and discover what great things life has in store. When I continue to hold on to those grudges, when I think of the people who have hurt me or who I have hurt, I cannot run my race successfully. I try my best to stay positive and optimistic for what lies ahead. I have goals and plans for my life that I work towards and look forward to. These are just a few of the things that help me run my race of life; now it is time for you to think of what can help you run yours.

As we dive into a new year, it is of utmost importance to remember that God never changes. The phrase “new year, new me” can be seen trending on social media, as individuals resolve to change themselves at the start of each new year. God, however, is always the same. He is omnipotent, meaning all powerful, omniscient, meaning all knowing, and omnipresent, meaning everywhere at the same time. God never changes; He will always be all powerful, knowing, and present. He stays with us even when the clock strikes 12:00 at the beginning of a new year. No matter what happened in 2020, or what 2021 holds in store for us, it is comforting to know that God is continually in control, and he knows what is best for every one of us. If we allow Him to, He can do great things in our lives every year. We must trust in His will and plan, leave the past in the past, and look optimistically towards the future.

In this new year, let us shed the hatred and fear that consumed so many in 2020. Let us love one another, forgive each other, be kind, respectful, and move on. We cannot continue to look back at our past mistakes and dwell in a time that is now passed. Each one of us needs to resolve to move on, continue running this beautiful race of life which God has blessed us with, and do our best to serve Him. Let 2021 be a great year not because of what happens in the world or as a result of our actions, but because of what God does for us. All of those little blessings, like the sun rising, the fresh water that we have, and the homes that we live in that we might take for granted are truly gifts from God. We should not ignore everything He constantly does for us. We must continue to run this race that we have been blessed with and continue to follow God’s will for our lives along the way. If we continue to look back and stumble, we can never win the prizes God has in store for us each new year.

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