From one perspective moving from Thursday to Friday this week is no big deal. Many will party Thursday evening and a lot of us will watch college football on Friday, but both are simply a part of the season as we celebrate the New Year’s holiday.

From another perspective, however, closing one year and beginning a new one can be significant. And through the years that significance has been found in New Year’s resolutions. While statistics show most resolutions are broken within the first month, a few people actually keep their resolutions and that changes their lives.

None of us are probably surprised to learn that one research group found that resolutions related to better health was the number one resolution. Somewhat surprising, however, was that a better relationship with God came in a close second. Older Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Christians all were more likely to make resolutions about God than about health. A spokesperson for the research noted, “We don’t hear a lot about it, but a relationship with God is still something people want.”

In reading about the research group’s findings I was reminded of a Facebook post by a longtime friend of mine a couple of days ago that simply said “I want to get closer to God.” I commented on his post “Good for you.” His response made my day: “You planted the mustard seed. I need to grow it. Thank you!”

The ending of one year and the beginning of a new one gives us the opportunity to look back as well as to look forward. We can note some of the things we did that we shouldn’t have done and some of the things we didn’t do that we should have done. For a lot of us that includes how we can make God a greater part of our lives.

I would not presume to suggest you make New Year’s resolutions or not. But I do think we can use the occasion of a New Year to do some thinking and remind ourselves of some things.

I have used the following poem for more than 40 years in speaking to youth and adults about a New Year. As you savor the words of this anonymous author I hope this poem comforts, challenges, and encourages you as we turn the page this year from 2015 to 2016.

He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done. “Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher? I’ve spoiled this one.”

I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted and gave him a new one all unspotted. And into his tired heart I cried, “Do better now, my child.”

I went to the throne with a trembling heart, the year was done. “Have you a new year for me, dear Master? I’ve spoiled this one.”

He took my year, all soiled and blotted and gave me a new one all unspotted. And into my tired heart he cried, “Do better now, my child.”


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photo credit: <a href=”″>Nouvel An 2014 à Montréal</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;