It is renewal, then, and not a clean break from the past, that offers us our greatest hope in 2021
Published on: 12-29-2020
As a child I was fascinated by the naturally occurring springs that dotted the pine and hardwood forests near my father’s cabin in the hills.
For a boy accustomed to turning a chrome handle to fill my glass with filtered, fluoridated liquid, the idea of a water source that flowed continuously from the earth held powerful meaning.
There was one sunlit spring, high on a roadside bank of grass, at which my father would stop as we drove a twisting highway through a river valley in the Berkshires. My brothers and I would slake our thirst at the cold pipe that always gushed a stream of icy water.
Some miles away another pipe had been driven into a mossy, leaf-strewn granite cliff. Frigid water flowed at such a rapid pace that travelers could quickly fill their picnic jugs and water bottles.
But my favorite was the roadside spring over which some thoughtful farmer had put a large metal drum. When you lay on your stomach to drink from the surface—for that was the only way you could get a swallow—you could see with utmost clarity the air bubbles at the bottom that always marked the inflow of new water to replenish the barrel.
Springs were valuable, I learned, because they are constantly renewed with fresh water from some vibrant underground aquifer I can never see.
And so at every rounding of the year, I think of springs and sources of renewal. In our frustration and haste we often wish to slam the door on the departing year, or banish memories of its pain and sorrow. But there are—and must be— great continuities that tie the old year to the new. We live in the same bodies; we inhabit the same homes. We remain related to the same family; we work at the same jobs. We worship with the same believers; we study the same Word.
It is renewal, then, and not a clean break from the past, that offers us our greatest hope in 2021. How can our bodies be renewed? Will this year be the one in which we are transformed by the renewing of our minds? (Rom. 12:2). How does a weary marriage find new sources of resilience and of laughter? Can dry and broken friendships be restored?
We crave the ageless and unquenchable source of all renewal— the grace and mercy of our Lord revealed in the pages of His Word. Only surrendering ourselves to it—lying flat upon the ground to drink its clear, unending truth—will make the new year different from the old, and water us with holy joy.
“For He who has mercy on them will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them” (Isa. 49:10).
Drink deeply from the Word of God in 2021. And stay in grace.