The myth of New Year’s Eve and Day, if you will, is forgetting the old and ringing in the new — symbolized by the old man year passing the crown to the baby new year (who will, in turn, be next year’s old man). And so the cycle continues. I can imagine that for many there is a desperation to their New Year’s Eve celebrating. A new start, a clean slate is an invigorating idea. But that idea can also come with heavy, invisible chains.
Martin Luther was caught in such an idea. For around five years, Luther labored as a monk, determined to follow the church rituals to the letter. He wanted desperately to feel saved, to feel forgiven. The weight of his sins that separated him from the Father was crushing to him. He felt a clear conscious, a clean slate, only as long as it took the next thought to come into his head. He wrote later of that time that if anyone were to get to heaven by their monkery, it would have been him. In a wonderful twist of providence, he was appointed to teach the Bible study class at the new university in Wittenberg, Germany. Because Luther always threw himself into whatever was before him and because he was now being looked to as an authority, he became a voracious student of the Word. That was when his eyes were opened to the reality of relationship with God — that God did not ask us to work our way to heaven. All that was required was that we come to him with empty hands and a believing heart, a heart that accepted his gift of forgiveness through belief in His Son. There is nothing so dark that the grace of the Lord can not cover. Finally, Luther had his clean slate. His revolution in thinking caused a worldwide revolution that only the Almighty could have foreseen. A clean slate, a truly clean slate, IS an invigorating idea, but it’s so much more than that.
I had my own desperate search for a clean slate. For years, I lived in a continual cycle of repentance and despair. I was in a pit of addiction so deep, I couldn’t see the light at the top. While I knew the truths that Luther didn’t discover until he began to teach the Bible study class, I didn’t understand their application until the Lion of Judah roared for me to return to relationship with him. He took me on a fifteen year journey that I certainly could not have foreseen — might have lost heart if I had. I experienced a lot of pain and undeniably glorious times as the Lord continued to unfold to me all that He is and all that I am as His child. Although mine and Luther’s story varies greatly in the details, both of our journeys blossomed when we finally understood that the grace of God covers all. He extends that grace to us because He loves us, and He wants us to love Him. Strangely enough, our hearts are the most full, the most satisfied when we do just that.
My desire for everyone that I know is to fully understand and experience the grace of God. I can not communicate in writing how deeply I desire that. I can describe the freedom I feel, freedom from a terrible burden I had no capacity to carry. I breathe more deeply and easier these days. I feel invigorated.
Happy New Year, everyone! Blessings to you and yours.