New Year, New You! This was my slogan. I thought it was original… and quite brilliant if I do say so myself.
I can’t remember the year exactly—it was maybe 2007 or 2008. I managed the group fitness programs for the City of Maple Ridge where I live. When this catchy phrase came to my mind, I got busy creating new bulletin boards at the Leisure Centre. I posted new classes and new inspiration for achieving goals and improving lives.
Sculpted shoulders and six-pack abs weren’t everything. Decreasing stress, improving energy, having fun and making friends, was also an important part of the plan. A new and improved you for a happy and bright future.
My slogan lives on!
Here we are, over a dozen years later, and my slogan — New Year, New You — lives on. I’ve seen it used a lot since then. In fact, a Google search produces billions of results. While I’m still helping people achieve new fitness goals (or at least maintain old ones), I have let go of this “new you” motto and my own incessant need for buns of steel. My slogan now reminds me mostly of one thing: 2 Corinthians 5:17.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
I think it’s clear that this verse has nothing to do with chiseled calves and six-pack abs. Instead, it’s a spiritual thing. A new creation having nothing to do with flesh and bones and strong, shapely muscles. FYI, that Google search lists New Year’s resolutions, marketing solutions, recipes, TV shows and on it goes, but nothing to do with spiritual things.
Temporal things vs. Eternal
Don’t get me wrong, I admire strong, shapely muscles. And after all these years, I still love moving my body; whether it’s a session of interval training including step cardio, pushups, planks, squats, lunges, crunches etc., or what I’ve been doing most since Covid: a lot of walking. As I get older, I appreciate more and more the benefits of exercise for physical and mental wellness, but my focus has changed. I’m less invested in the temporal things and more on what’s eternal.
Along with this changed focus because of aging, since those dozen or so years ago, I’ve had the incredible honour of sitting with a number of dying loved-ones, including my late husband Mike, my mom, and most recently, my friend Shonia. An unexpected opportunity to sit with her on Christmas Eve and hold her hand, talk to her and pray for her and her family, turned out to be the most beautiful Christmas present I could ever imagine. It’s humbling and very special to be close to a soul getting ready to leave its earthy dwelling for its heavily home.
I love the way the Message Bible words 2 Corinthians 5:17: Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!
Faith = New Life
Many versions of the verse say it this way, “…if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation…” I know it sounds pretty crazy, but it simply means whoever has put their faith in Jesus, has new life in Him. The old way of living goes, a new way comes. New purpose, new habits, new hope, new dreams, and a new way of thinking. It also comes with this: assurance of a home in heaven.
Shonia had a strong faith but to help her with any doubts she may have been experiencing, I read some verses that would assure her of where she was going, including 2 Corinthians 2:17, and John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
When we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and accept His forgiveness and love for us, we are reconciled to Him; a friendship like no other begins.
Further in our chapter (vs 5:18-19) it says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”
Our new life requires repentance–a turning from sin and a turning to Him. And even though, our new selves still struggle and still sin, we can know, because He says so, that our sinfulness was nailed to the cross with Him. It’s gone. We are dead to our old sinful nature and alive in Christ. Our old self is crucified with him and our new self shares in His righteousness. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (vs 21) Now that is LOVE!
Growing in Faith, Hope & Joy… and Love
Growing in our faith and in our knowledge of Him is a process. It’s a lifelong journey where we walk with Him and talk with Him and even become more like Him. So new believers and old ones alike, don’t be discouraged! We grow in our faith, hope and joy as we seek Him and trust Him with all our hearts. Just as some of us devote time and energy to physical fitness, we can (and should) focus on spiritual growth. (I’m going to share some ideas of how we can grow spiritually at the bottom of this post.)
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
At one point while I was with Shonia, I held her head in my hands while making adjustments for her comfort. In hopes to dispel any fear she was experiencing, I asked her if she had accepted Jesus—if she had said, “yes” to Him. After a slight nod and quiet uh-huh, I replied, “When you leave us, you’ll be with Jesus.”
Shonia passed away on December 27, having fought cancer for many years like a true champion and having suffered more than most of us could ever imagine. She will inspire me and all her friends and family for many years to come!
2 Corinthians 5:1 explains: Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
When Mike died (six years ago today – Jan 5, 2015), our son Nathan remarked on the profound contrast of his strong spirit now eternally free and the shell he left behind. I thought of that when I was with Shonia.
To read more I’ve written about Shonia, go to this post from two years ago, called, Good News of Great Joy.
For spiritual training…
I suggest spending some time each day in God’s Word and in prayer. I highly recommend the Bible App for the verse of the day, devotional plans, the daily story (which includes a verse, a short video, a quick devotional read, and prayer), also the whole Bible at your finger tips for reading and/or listening. Chris and I are currently doing the New Testament in 90 Days plan. Also, there are so many great devotional books. I also suggest getting connected with other believers, whether it’s a church (right now most churches have online services), bible study, and/or prayer and encouragement group, or one on one with a Christian friend (again, during Covid, over the phone or zoom). Keep in mind, prayer is just talking to God, so if it’s a little foreign to you (or if you’re out of practice), just talk to Him like you would talk to a friend… He is a friend.
I leave you with the last verses of 2 Corinthians 5: …God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you. (vs18-20) Message
Photos below and at the top of this post: A blast from the past, from around 1997. Colleen and I owned and operated Fitness Works for 5 years. After that I managed the group fitness programs for the City of Maple Ridge for about 10 years. I still teach fitness classes at the MR Leisure Centre (not at the moment because of Covid, but you know what I mean).
Happy New Year! Happy New You!