This is a time of year when many people are thinking about new beginnings.  Technically speaking, there is not a lot of difference between this week and last week.  Most of us have the same families, jobs, schools, routines, and responsibilities as we did previously.  Still, from a cultural, psychological, and emotional standpoint, turning the calendar page from December 31 to January 1 can be highly significant.  December 2009 on my large desk calendar was filled with legible notes, illegible scribbling, appointments, lines, arrows, doodles, and coffee stains.  January 2010 is clean, crisp, wide open, and full of potential. 

We are all familiar with things that allow us to make fresh starts.  While our family has never owned or gotten into home video games on devices like PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii, I do remember getting fairly addicted to a golf game and Solitaire on our first home computer.  One feature that I especially loved was the “New Game” command.  If I ever got frustrated with my score on the virtual golf course or was struggling with a particular hand of cards, I could just hit “New Game” and everything was magically made new.  There was an endless supply of “do overs.”  It is like the trip odometer on my car.  Just press and hold for a moment, and everything zeroes out.  The accumulated miles are instantly erased from the display.  Numerous gadgets and electronics have reset buttons that will restore them to a pristine state, just as if we had never messed with them or messed them up.  Computer games and trip odometers are mundane and trivial.  Our souls are not. 

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we have the opportunity to start over spiritually.  Through God’s grace and gift, we can “begin again” in our relationship with Him.  We can be “born again” (John 3:1-8).  In the faith response of baptism, we are raised to walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) and share in the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).  In Christ, we are “new creations”; the old things have passed away; new things have come (II Corinthians 5:17).

When God forgives our sin, He does so completely and forever, just as He promised.  “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).  “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).  Just like the “clean slate” of an erased chalkboard.  Just like the well-shaken Etch A Sketch of our childhood.  God “clicks and drags” over the sins of our lives with the blood of Jesus and hits “Delete.”  There is no “Undo” command that can make the guilt of those sins reappear.  They are forever forgiven. 

Thank you, gracious Father, for letting us start over!