Sunday, December 28, 2014


Since I live in the heart of bustling Toronto, it was a sweet change of pace to spend the holidays with my parents who live on a quiet farm in the Ottawa Valley. One afternoon while there, I sat in my dad's study with my laptop open, thinking about the coming new year, ready to write, but the view out his windows made me pause. Stretching in each direction were farm fields separated by old, wooden, split-rail fences. It had been snowing for the past few hours and the ground was blanketed in soft white.

No imprint, no stain. Only white.
Winter's peaceful white covering sin's crimson red.

Purity is breathtakingly beautiful and, clothed in Christ, that is us.The Creator designed our world to have illustrations of His grace. In the quiet of a winter afternoon, He painted a picture of those well-known but never old words of redemption: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. 1:18).

But sometimes it's hard to believe such a description is true. We see our failure, our sin, and suddenly the brimming optimism of a new year seems utterly cliché. We long to grow and do better in the year ahead, but we've failed before and we know we'll fail again.

A new year, and already we're in need of new hope.

Fresh resolve is a good thing, a biblical thing, and it's not that there's anything wrong with making resolutions. It's just that we so often fail to keep them. Resolutions provide a striking contrast between us and God. We resolve, our resolve wanes, we fail, then by grace we start again. But not God. He resolves, and it is perfectly so.

Maybe this year, the resolution we need to reflect upon most is not the one that we make, but rather the one we receive: a resolution, a covenant, made by God to His people.
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. (Jer. 32:40–41)
If our ability to change hung solely in the balance of our ability to keep resolutions we'd be without hope. But our growth in the new year hangs in the balance of God's ability to keep His resolution to us. And He will never turn away from doing us good.

The resolution we need most is not one we make but one we receive; not a goal we accomplish through effort but a gift we receive through faith.

It's a resolution that will never be broken because it's made by the One who will never fail.

Snow keeps falling. 
Hard ground is clothed in soft white. 
Each detail, painted by the Artist: exquisite beauty, perfect purity, enduring hope.

And in the quiet of freshly falling grace, we listen for His voice: I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them.

(This article was first published here.)