Forgetting What’s Behind or Auld Lang Syne?

That time is upon us once again, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. It’s a time when we look back at the year and resolve to do things better in the year to come. We resolve to improve our health, our diet, to be more productive, to make more money-to be a better version of ourselves. Wise investors buy into gym stocks in January and sell off in February for an easy and predictable return knowing how quickly we give up on resolutions. We ring out the old year with a rendition of an old Scottish drinking song, Auld Lang Syne. Us Scots know a thing or two about drinking songs. In the original version of this song there are five stanzas, each ending with a toast or draught. By the time the song ends a Scot will be feeling pretty good.

Auld Lang Syne means ”of better times” or ”of days gone by”. We are to look back with fondness on good times shared with family and friends whenever ”brought to mind”. However Paul says in Philippians to forget what’s behind and press forward anticipating what’s to come. Is this a contradiction to days gone by? I want to suggest both are possible and healthy. Let me explain.

We are all unique individuals with lives based upon our own history, experiences and memories, mostly good but a few bad. We are also equipped with the ability to filter which memories to cherish and ponder and which ones to erase or delete from our mind. Pleasant memories can be motivational. Before the pandemic you might have had a great job so you know you have the qualifications to have one again. Your relationship may have ended but you remember how magical the years were when they were good and you know you want that again. You remember how good you felt at 175 lbs. and you know you can get there again with discipline and a change of eating habits.

But there are those memories that can be haunting, the failures, the mistakes, the expectations not met, the low times when motivation was nonexistent, not the kind of memories you raise a glass to. Perhaps the Apostle is referring to these types of memories when he urges us to forget what’s behind and press forward. The disconnect for some is their filters are not activated and these haunts rush in hidden among the pleasant memories. These haunts are dream killers and road blocks to self-improvement or any resolution.

In order to prevent making resolutions with a shelf life of three weeks it’s imperative that we go into our settings and turn on our spam filters to block any incoming negativity so that only pleasant motivational memories remain. God no longer remembers our past slip-ups, why should we beat ourselves up over things God has already thrown into the trash bin? It’s time to empty our trash bin and clear all cache going into the new year. In Christ we have a purpose and a plan that can’t be defeated if we learn how to keep our minds fixed on good things.

God says look, I’m doing a new thing; God says I make everything new; God says in Christ are are a new creation. As we enter the new year I pray God blesses you with good health, spiritual prosperity and the resolve be all He intended you to be so that Auld Lang Syne might include days to come. Have a blessed and peaceful New Year!

New Beginnings from Old Endings


It’s one week into the New Year and I’m guessing many of us have already broken at least one of our resolutions. Typically the new year signals the start of new beginnings, change of habits, a renewed focus on things we prioritize as important in self-improvement.  New Years and birthdays are good opportunities to reflect on the past, take inventory of our lives and make adjustments as we move into the future. For many these are exciting times, but for others, they are unwelcomed detours.

A wise philosopher is quoted as saying that new beginnings often come disguised as troubled endings.  You may be embarking on a new job but only because you were unceremoniously dismissed or laid off from the one you loved. Perhaps you are starting the year off debt free but only because your prior financial situation resulted in bankruptcy. Maybe you are in a new relationship but only because of a recent heart wrenching separation or divorce. Indeed some new beginnings are only a result of painful endings.

New is described as recently originated or produced, not seen before.  We love the idea of driving a new car or moving into a new model home.  But new is also defined as unaccustomed or unfamiliar.  New can be intimidating or scary. New can be unwelcomed and dreaded requiring changes which were not of our choosing. The world turns, our environment and circumstances shift, we adapt and prepare to move forward but it is not without trepidation. Fear of the unknown and not being able to see the path before you is only welcomed for haunted house adventurers, not everyday people.

In the original new beginning God made everything new and perfect-man was a new creature, the earth he inhabited was new, the sun, moon and stars all new and good.  Then man did what he does best, he inserted his own will into the equation and messed everything up and became separated from God. So God came up with a New Covenant through His son Jesus, the best New we could possibly welcome.  The Word as always has much to say about newness and starting over from the past and should serve as words of hope and encouragement when read.

Jeremiah 29:11; I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and a future and a hope.

2 Corinthians 5:17; Anyone in Christ is a new creation. Old things are no more and the new things have come.

Isaiah 43:19; Look, I am doing something new and it springing forth even now, do you not see it?

Lamentations 4:22; The steadfast love of the Lord never ends! His mercies are new every morning.

Ephesians 4:22; Put away your old self, your old former self with its corruption and evil desires, and be renewed and put on the new self created in the likeness of God.

Job 8:7; Your beginning my have been small but your new latter days will be great.

Isaiah 40:331; Those who wait for the Lord will be given new strength.

Ezekiel 36:26; I will give you a new heart and I’ll put a new spirit within you.

Revelation 21:5; He who was seated on the throne said “Look, I am making all things new”.

I like many of you know the joy of being given a new opportunity because of something I worked hard to achieve. And I also know the pain of a new beginning due to a less than perfect ending. I write from a first person point of view because in most cases I am the first person, reporting from inside the storm.  Some of the most encouraging words we have to live by today were written by an Apostle while he was in chains and sharing his sleeping quarters with rats. It is only through the Word that we can embrace new beginnings with a renewed sense of hope that a sovereign God will see us through our new surroundings as we eagerly await the ending of this life on earth in exchange for a new home in a new kingdom where everyday is a new and refreshing beginning that will never have a painful ending.  Happy New Year.