The act of opening up a new calendar brings with it this hope...that things will be different.
We -most of us- don't want everything to be different. Because there are some pretty cool parts of life. Even when the stock market was tanking, even when people were being laid off, even when people were panicking over H1N1, there has been good in 2009. So we don't want everything to change...to be different.
But there is something about opening that new calendar, looking at that white space on each day of January 2010, and for just a few moments our hearts beat a little faster with the prospect that we can overcome some self-destructive fear or addiction. For just a moment we think about starting over in a friendship or bringing new energy and passion to our marriage. Or with God.
Here's the thing: opening a new calendar doesn't mean a thing if we don't do life differently. And that will involve risk. I think about the short tax collector named Zacchaeus. We meet him in the New Testament. He has a reputation as a tool of the hated Roman Empire. He does their dirty work for them -draining tax dollars out of his Jewish neighbors and friends. And, my hunch tells me, he -like most tax collectors- bent the truth to get a little extra. Because everything extra went straight into the tax collector's pocket! So Jesus shows up, hangs out with Zacchaeus, and the man changes. Becomes a giver.
I wonder what people in that town thought when they heard Zacchaeus talking about giving back way more than he ever took from people unfairly. I wonder if people laughed. If they smiled when Zacchaeus talked about changing and said, "Yeah. Right. I'll believe it when I see it."
Sometimes we don't make it easy for people to change. We keep rubbing their noses in their past. Who they have been.
"What will you say 'no' to so that you can devote your life to the things that really count most?" I asked a friend the other day. I know it is a tough thing to do - and I am fearful that I won't have the courage to make the changes I know God needs for me to make in 2010.
A new calendar won't mean a thing if we don't make some different decisions.