I’ve always loved birds. My kids tease me mercilessly about my dorky delight. Since moving to the RGV, I’ve enjoyed living in one of the best places in the US for bird-watching. Saturday mornings often find me, Kevin, Asher, and some Shipley’s donuts, out birding in a local park.

The last week in December, though, our normally peaceful park was really crowded. “What the heck?,” Kevin asked was we pulled up to Quinta Mazatlan, our Saturday favorite. It was 8:30am and the parking lot was packed. It was birders, we discovered. Birders from all over the US, on vacation. Dozens and dozens and dozens. You could tell where all the cool birds were just by noticing where packs of people were clustered, binoculars raised.

I met people from all over the place. One told me- we have two more days to finish “The List.” Apparently birding can get quite competitive! You’re trying to observe more birds than the other folks. There are rankings! Many birders don’t care about that. They just want to see if they can see more birds this year than they did the year before. And on January 1, it all goes back to zero. On January 1, people like me, who struggle to identify a warbler, are at exactly the same starting point as the guy who has seen hundreds and hundreds of birds and led the rankings just a day before. January 1 resets everyone. A fresh start. Every year.

We love fresh starts, don’t we? There is something so hopeful about a fresh year, a new job, or a new home. That’s right where we are now- a fresh new year, with everything ahead of us. But also remember, this fresh start, this wiping clean of the past, is exactly what Jesus offers us every day of our lives. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to be dragged down by our sins or failures. Jesus offers to clean the record. To set us, with all our failings and flaws, back to perfect. Wow!

January 1 is a great day. But even better to know this eternal truth, and let it soak in: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” —2 Corinthians 5:17

You are a new creation. The old stuff is in the past. And your heart, your soul, your very life is being made new.

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