Embracing the new in 2024

We’re here. The beginning of a new year. 2023 is only a few days past. What a year it was. The year of AI, of war and political turmoil, and a year of wonder and adventure. Births, graduations, weddings, and new milestones.

And as 2023 came to a close, I found myself reading through the book of Isaiah.

It’s a behemoth of a book full of many moving pieces, a book that weaves together poetry and history, kings and kingdoms, judgment and hope. If it were a film, it would be more The Revenant or The Tree of life, and not so much The Fast and the Furious.

Like truly wonderful art, the book of Isaiah demands attention and humility. It’s a sweeping panoramic of the people of God experiencing anguish, beauty, justice, and the character of a holy God. Unlike other stories, no one person is the protagonist; God takes centre stage here.

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Chapters 1-39 can be loosely understood as God’s judgment or people making sense of God’s judgment. The people of God are marched off into exile, in captivity. Chapter 39 ends with a cliffhanger (2 Kings 24-25). All hope seems to be lost. Yet, scattered throughout these chapters are glimmers of comfort that one day, a righteous one will come and bring renewal.

There were several times throughout 2023 that I found myself grumbling.

The next chapter, 40, opens on a crescendo of assurance. We begin to see hope spark from the embers of exile. The rest of the book is a dance of God’s voice of comfort and the people grumbling and accusing God that he has abandoned them.

Funny how we do that too! Well, maybe not you, but there were several times throughout 2023 that I found myself grumbling. When the car breaks down, when the price of bread, milk, Tim Tams, and cheese skyrockets (apologies if you work at a Woollies or Coles). When we lose a job and life just doesn’t seem to be going our way.

And in the middle of global atrocities and mundane dailiness, we read this: “Behold, 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 43:19

I am sure you have heard these verses many times before, but they are most poignant now at the start of a new year. For a new year feels like a fresh start. A new calendar symbolises a new resolve to make life count. Turning a new leaf – you know all of the cliches. Or, as G.K. Chesterton puts it: “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”[1]

A new year is an invitation to take your everyday ordinary life and offer afresh to God.

The aim of Isaiah 43 is to find ourselves in a new God’s “grand story of salvation.” This is our aim for 2024, to become wholly new. As Eugene Peterson comments on the book of Isaiah: “The impressive art of Isaiah involves taking the stuff of our ordinary and often disappointing human experience and showing us how it is the very stuff that God uses to create and save and give hope.”[2]

That’s what this year holds for you. A new year is an invitation to take your everyday ordinary life and offer afresh to God.

So as we enter a new year, where do you sense God inviting you into something new? Is it finally reading your way through the whole Bible? Writing an album or a book? Applying for that dream job? Walking more closely and abiding with Jesus? Or maybe, just maybe it’s finally taking that step into study. If you’re ready to take that next step into the new, join the Morling College Information Session on 30th January and have a chat with their Future Student Advisers about your plans. Semester 1 starts in February.

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Register for the Morling College Info session here.

[1] G.K. Chesterton, In the Daily News.
[2] Eugene H. Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed By the Words of God, p115.