True to its Roman god namesake, Janus, we have entered the month of beginnings. Janus, usually depicted as having two faces - one looking forward and the other looking back - was believed by the Romans to be the god of transitions. January is certainly a time of transitions. As we all try to get used to writing 2013 in our checkbooks, it's a time to reflect back on the year that has just ended, as well as look forward to the one that we have just entered.
It's not hard coming up with sad and tragic memories as we think about 2012. There was last July's Aurora theater shootings, and of course the horrible shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut in December. Last summer also saw some deadly and destructive wildfires in Colorado. The economy continued to sputter, and lawmakers allowed us to fall off the fiscal cliff, albeit temporarily.
But beyond these sad and bad times we experienced collectively as a state or nation, all of us undoubtedly experienced many personal problems, sorrows and tragedies. Some probably happened through no fault of our own. But others were undoubtedly brought on by our own actions. All of us certainly said and did things in the year that has just ended that we deeply regret and wish we could take back. Wouldn't it be nice if we could start the new year with a clean slate, and leave those bad choices and bad memories in the past?
In a very real sense, we can. While we may not be able to completely leave all the ill effects of our bad behavior behind, God can. In fact, God has already done that. The Bible promises, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). God assures us, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). All of the hateful thoughts, hurtful words, and sinful actions we did last year have already been atoned for. All of the good we should have done but failed to do has also been paid for and forgiven. That happened long ago. It happened nearly 2,000 years ago on the cross of Calvary.
God has forgiven us, completely and permanently. We can begin a new year with a clean slate, a clean heart, and a clean conscience. Leave the sins of last year in the past. Live 2013 in confidence and peace. Strive to avoid falling back into those sins, and move forward into this new year in God's grace. "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14).