By Melissa McLaughlin

We all love to get new things. The new journal has fresh clean pages with no smudges or bent corners. The new pencil is full length and topped with a perfect, unused eraser. The new clothes have no stains, tatters or frayed edges.

When we stand at the cusp of a new year, it too, has its own special charm. Many people determine to work toward healthier habits or plan to accomplish a particular goal.

As we look ahead to the upcoming year, we have 365 blank sheets of paper that will add up to another chapter of our lives. How will we fill these pages?

Perhaps one of the most important points to remember is simply that we have the gift of life. And that is no small gift. We all have loved ones who are no longer walking through life with us into this year ahead. The breath that fills our lungs, the beating of our heart, the blood that runs through our veins is a gift from God. The gift of life.

The Gift of Life

When we pause to consider the existence of life itself, it is a deep wonder to behold. To think that a small seed can be placed in the ground, and given the proper moisture and sunlight, will burst forth into the new life of a plant, flower or tree. From a colorful zinnia, to a leafy cucumber plant to a towering Sequoia tree. All these from a tiny seed? How is that possible?

When we ponder the workings of animal or human life, it is equally astonishing. How could a tiny egg grow into a fully functioning human being with all of its intricately, interlocking cells, tissues, muscles, organs and bones?

As humans, we have achieved many great feats, the invention of vehicles, airplanes, cell phones, computers and rockets, to name a few. However, we cannot create one living cell. We have mechanized copies of living things, but they pale in comparison. Though we are grateful for the robotic heart, the hearing aid and the prosthetic limb, they stand as our best attempts at simulating something that is far, far beyond us. Life.

The gift of life itself is a treasured gift, for we know we can participate and continue the life that is at work within us, but we cannot create this gift ourselves. Life.

Living things give evidence to One who can create life, the Living God. Incredibly, the Maker of all life, sent His Son, Jesus, to lay down His life in order that we could have eternal life. This adds to the preciousness of this life we live. How could One so great, go to such lengths, to spare one so insignificant? He spared not His Son, so that He could spare us. For eternal life.

The Choice of Life or Death

There were only three people who could choose life or death. The first two, Adam and Eve, were given the opportunity to choose life or death. They chose death, by defying God’s clear command in the Garden of Eden. From that point on, both Adam and Eve and all humankind were guaranteed one thing. Death. We could never live forever in the garden with our heavenly Father, for we were now tainted with sin. Our perfect, good and holy Father could not and still cannot allow evil in His presence or His goodness ceases to be good. As a sinful people, death was our only option.

But for Jesus.

Jesus was the only other person who could choose life or death. The One who was with God in the beginning, the One who is God, existing before all time as part of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus was the One who created life on earth in the beginning. When Jesus came to earth in the form of a human, He could have chosen life.

But Jesus chose death. He willingly laid down His life.

Why? Because God is just. And unlike human judges He will not negotiate His justice. He will not bend the truth, turn a blind eye, accept bribes or sweep things under the rug. He sees all and knows all. And the penalty for sin must be paid. That penalty is death.

Jesus died once for all, taking the punishment for all sin, for all time. On that cross two things were executed…absolute justice and absolute mercy. We could not pay the price for our sin-debt, so Jesus did. In exchange for our sin, He gave us His righteousness. That we could have life. By grace, through faith in Christ, we are cleansed of sin and promised eternal life in heaven.

New Life in Christ

Jesus chose death to give us life. New life. Eternal life.

Life is a gift.

Eternal life is an even greater gift.

An unspeakably sacrificial gift.

Given by an all-powerful, all-loving, all-merciful and holy God.

New Year, New Life in Christ

In this new year, may we never take for granted even one day of life and our new life in Christ!

Heavenly Father, how we praise you! You have given us all things. As we look ahead to this new year, may we be overflowing with joy at the gifts you have given! Life and eternal life. Such sacred gifts. Holy Spirit, may we begin each day with fresh wonder and awe at how great You are and how great is Your love. May the delight of being in Your Presence be our greatest resolution and pursuit, day by day, week by week, month by month, so that when this year comes to a close, we will see how You have written a beautiful new chapter, of new life in Christ through us. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Additional Resources:

The Sacrificial Lamb – Why Did Jesus Have to Die? By Melissa McLaughlin

A God Who is Both: Loving and Holy, Savior and Judge By Melissa McLaughlin

What if I let God be God This Year? By Karen Girl Friday