What really needs to change this New Year?

This past year seems to me to have flown by. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we celebrated Christmas 2014, watched the ball drop in Times Square, and then cheered on the Oregon Ducks as they lost the NCAA college football championship game to The Ohio State Buckeyes (boo). And the older we get, the faster time seems to move.

Fireworks light up Times Square as the Countdown Ball drops as thousands of revelers gather in New York's Times Square to celebrate the ball drop at the annual New Years Eve celebration on December 31, 2013 in New York City. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Fireworks light up Times Square as the Countdown Ball drops as thousands of revelers gather in New York’s Times Square to celebrate the ball drop at the annual New Years Eve celebration.

When I look at pictures of my beautiful wife and myself in the year 2000, we don’t seem to be too much younger then. And the memories are still fresh, still part of our consciousness, not merely distant memories. But that was 16 years ago. George W. Bush was President of the US. The Twin Towers were still standing. Friends was popular on TV. And the LA Lakers were actually good!

When I feel the passage of time the most is when I look at my kids. My two boys, Ryan and Josh, hadn’t even been born yet in 2000. I was still in graduate school, living in Idaho, and Ann was pregnant with our first child, our daughter Sydney. Today she’s a high school sophomore and about to celebrate her Sweet 16th birthday. Yes, when I think about my kids I feel the passage of time much more acutely.

These two rascals weren't even alive in 2000. Now they have their own car detailing business. Time flies!

These two rascals weren’t even alive in 2000. Now they have their own car detailing business. Time flies!

The New Year always brings about reflection, nostalgia, and an eye to the future. We make our so-called New Year Resolutions, committing to make much needed changes in our lives. We’re going to get the family budget in the black, pay off credit the cards, and start saving for the kids’ college. We’re going to join the gym (again) and start exercising at least three times a week, like the doctors all keep telling us. We’re going to start praying with the kids every night at bedtime and every morning, reading the Bible together as a family every Sunday, and listening to nothing but KLOVE on the radio.

These are all worthy goals, but are they the changes we really need? God told Samuel in no uncertain terms that He is concerned first and foremost with our hearts.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Ever wonder why New Year Resolutions are so difficult to keep? Maybe we’re too focused on the behavior instead of the heart. But what about things like daily devotions and worship and prayer? Why are these seemingly heart-related activities so difficult to keep up? Even spiritual disciplines – maybe even more so than any other behaviors – require a change of heart before the behaviors will truly change.

So as you look forward to 2016 and the promise it holds, consider what changes really need to be made this year. Then pray long and hard about the state of your heart, and ask God to make the changes there. Wherever the heart goes, the behavior will follow.

Remember what God told Samuel: People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Let’s pray in 2016 that we will do the same.

Happy New Year!

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About Dave Cummings

Dave Cummings is a husband, father of three, college professor, biologist, and urban outdoorsman. Most importantly, he is a Christ follower.
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