Happy New Year!

Or as they say in Ukrainian: shchaslyvoho Novoho roku

Or as they say in Welsh: blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Or as they say in Gaelic: Bliadhna mhath ùr

Or as they say in that strange language of the Americans –

Happy New Year!

What is it that we are wishing?

For health, wealth, happiness, good relationships, fulfilment in all ways!

Well…it’s a grand hope – there’s no doubt about that. But, is it a realistic hope or a “pie in the sky” one? The reality of life this year is that it’s going to be sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes happy and sometimes sad.

What is it that we really should be wishing for this year???

Well…in Hebrew “Happy New Year” is: “Shana Tova” and Jonathan Cahn, in his awesome work: “The Book of Mysteries” (Day 3) explains what this means:

He came to me at night.

“What is a year?” asked the teacher.

“Three hundred and sixty-five days,” I answered.

“But in the language of Scripture it’s more than that. It’s called the Shannah…and it contains a secret. The word Shannah is linked to the number two.”

“I don’t get the connection.”

“Shannah can mean the second, the duplicate, or the repeat. In the course of nature the year is the repeating of what has already been…the winter, the spring, the summer, and the fall, the blossoming of flowers and their withering away, the rebirth of nature and its dying, the same progression, the same replaying of what already was. So a year is a Shannah, a repetition. And now you have a new year before you. And what kind of year will it be?”

“What do you mean?”

“The nature of nature is to repeat, just as we live, by nature as creatures of habit. We gravitate toward doing that which we’ve done before, the same routines and courses, even when those routines and courses are harmful to us. So what will the Shannah, this new year, be for you?”

“Well if the year means the repeat, I guess I don’t have much of a choice. It will mostly be the same as the one before.”

“But you do have a choice,” he said, “You see, Shannah has a double meaning. It not only means the repeat…it also means the change.”

“How can the same word mean the opposite?”

“The same way the year ahead of you can be either. The way of the world is to repeat – but the way of God is the way of newness and change. You can’t know God and not be changed by knowing Him. And His will is that this year, the Shannah ahead, be not a time of repetition but of change, of new beginnings, new steps, of breaking out of the old. And if you want to experience a year of new things, you must choose to live not in the repetition of the natural, but in the newness of the supernatural. Choose to walk not in your will but in the will of Him who is beyond the natural and beyond all that is old. As it is written, He makes all things new. Open up your life to the newness of His will, and you will walk in the newness of life and in the Shannah of change.”

So New Year is the opportunity of “change, of new beginnings, new steps, of breaking out of the old”.

We say we do this by making “New Year Resolutions”.

But New Year Resolutions have sadly fallen out of fashion.

What’s the point? I make promises to myself of how I am going to improve myself this year, learn from the mistakes of the past, do better this time. And I “grit my teeth” and “give it my all” …and fail miserably! By the end of the first month I have sunk back into the same old ways. I may do different things but my life is simply a repeat of how it was last year…

But this is NOT what I want! I want an end to selfishness and a beginning of godliness!

But I can’t do it! I can’t keep it up! I can’t maintain the change that I want to see!

And the problem is the “I”. In my own strength I can’t maintain the change. There has to be a different way forward. I don’t want to “repeat” last year, I want to be “renewed” this year…and the answer, I believe, lies in the story of the eagle…

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

For God tells us, in the analogy of the eagle, how we are going to be able to be renewed in this New Year…

The Eagle is the king of all the birds – symbol of great strength and focus. It soars high in the sky on the thermals of the air. Yet, with its eagle eyes it does not lose sight of its prey – even when its target is far, far away. If I were a bird then I would want to be an eagle.

An eagle can live to be 70 years old. But to reach this great age, the eagle must make a hard decision. By the time it reaches its 40s, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab the prey which serves as its food. Its long beak becomes bent. Its old and heavy wings, with its thick feathers, become stuck to its chest and make it difficult to fly.

The eagle now has only two options: it will either die or it will go through a tough and painful process of change which will last up to 150 days. This process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle must knock its beak against a rock until it is able to pluck it out. The eagle then waits for a new beak to grow. After this it will pull out its talons. When its talons grow back, the eagle will then start to pluck out its old feathers. At the end of 5 months the eagle’s beak, talons and feathers have been renewed and it will then take its famous flight of rebirth and will live for 30 more years.

Let us learn the lesson of the eagle. In order to make this new year a year of “renew” rather than “repeat”, we have to play our part and start a change process. This might mean committing ourselves to getting rid of old habits, memories and other past traditions, ending poor relationships and lifestyles. This will involve a time of painful “plucking out” of old ways. Then it will involve a time of “waiting” on the Lord, fasting and praying, meditating on the Word of God, as we do so.

But the effort shall be worth it. Like the eagle we will then “mount up with wings as eagles” we shall “run and not be weary…walk and not faint”

We have a choice to make this year. Let our choice be that of the Shammah. Let us choose to be renewed this year and not to repeat last year. Let us wait on the Lord, and do our part, and like the eagle see our spiritual strength renewed.