Friday, December 30, 2011

If Only It Was That Easy

According to an AP story from December 28, 2009, scores of New Yorkers and tourists seeking a fresh start for the new year gathered in Times Square to put their bad memories through the shredder at the third annual Good Riddance Day. Participants lined up near the booth where discount theater tickets are sold and pitched their bad memories into an industrial-sized shredder. According the Karen Matthews, people shredded about everything you could imagine: the box score to a losing football game which knocked the New York Giants out of the playoffs, the memory of a counselor on a school field trip who was later featured on America’s Most Wanted, bills, correspondence, memories of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, and much, much more. But not to worry. If someone brought something which could not be shredded—say a computer or a tin of fattening snacks—a dumpster and a sledgehammer were available them.

People come from near and far for this annual event. The turnout says something about the hunger people have to rid themselves of past mistakes, sins, bad memories, broken hearts, and hurtful relationships. Just smash ‘em with a sledgehammer or put ‘em through a shredder. There! All gone!

If only it was this easy. But it’s not. While there’s much symbolic value in Good Riddance Day, and while it surely feels good for a while, the hurt, the scars, the tough consequences, don’t go away with the swing of a hammer or the push of a button. They linger. They gnaw. They suck the life out of you and steal your joy.

It’s not just what we get rid of that matters; it’s what we embrace in their place that matters more. Jesus told a story about a man that had a demon living in his heart. What a torment that demon was to this poor man! By good fortune, however, the man was able finally to sweep that demons clean—to run it off, to shoo it away, to send it scampering away from his heart. He sure felt better … for a season. But because the man didn’t replace that demon with anything else, the demon came back home to the man’s heart, brought along some friends, and the man was worse in the end than he was in the beginning. See what I mean? It’s not just what we get rid of that matters, it’s what we embrace in their place that matters more.

Could I encourage you on the threshold of a new year to embrace Jesus? He loves you. He forgives you. And He can set up residence in your heart that makes it possible to get rid of your heart-junk once and for all. It’s a process. Jesus does His work over time, but He can fill the void left by the sins, mistakes, and bad decisions that have haunted you for so long. When those demons try to come home, let Jesus answer the door. They won’t stick around for very long.

Getting rid of the junk that weighs you down is never as easy as it seems, but Jesus is the long-term cure. No one does true forgiveness and new beginning better than Jesus. Receive Him. Embrace Him. Trust Him. And this new year could be the best one you’ve ever enjoyed.

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