New Year – Ben Shive (2008, The Ill-Tempered Klavier)

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Finding a high-quality, positive, Christian song about the New Year is somewhat challenging these days.  There are plenty of praise songs about God making things new.  And there are far too many secular songs about the New Year; but too many of them focus on the negative or the insignificant.

So, leave it to a seasoned songwriter who stays mostly behind the scenes of many popular faces of Christian music to come up with the exact tune for the big occasion.  Ben Shive hails from the musical hotbed of Nashville, TN.  He doesn’t have many songs (only two albums) published under just his name, but his creative talent is imprinted on several works from well known artists (Amy Grant, Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.).

The New Year is a spiritually difficult time for many people.  I find that there is a distinctive let down from the holiday season that is acutely felt right after January arrives.  Perhaps it is the dead of winter wrapping its gray, unrelenting arms around us.  Maybe it’s the disappointment from a year gone by that wasn’t what it should have been.  Or it could be the fear of making a resolution and then being stressed about having to commit to that resolution for such a long time.

Whatever the case may be, this song is meant to encourage a more positive outlook on New Year’s Day, based on the concept of Christ’s love.  Listen to wisdom from Ben:

This year, I’m gonna love you better than last year,                                                    Through repeating the past crimes I’ve learned my lesson the last time,                         And you say, “I need more than a new day,” and, “no one ever had a true heart.”             But love is gonna give us a new start.                                                                                  It’s a new year, a new day,                                                                                                    It’s a new scene in an old play,                                                                                           And I finally decided that love is alive in the choice you make to give it away.                     A new year and a new dawn,                                                                                                 It’s a new line in an old song,                                                                                               And I finally believe that love is the reason that the past is gone and the world turns on. Sometimes, you gotta make up your mind,                                                                           If all you really want is more love, you gotta give her your love.                                          So you say a prayer and catch your breathe,                                                                    And you’re so alive and so scared to death,                                                                        So say what you mean, not what you meant to,                                                                 And she just smiled like, “What has gotten into you?”

Oh yeah, did I mention that this a sort of love song?  Well, I see it both ways.  We can apply this philosophy to both our marriages and spiritual lives.  We can declare on this new day that we will forgive and show up in our loved ones’ lives; BECAUSE God forgave and showed up in our lives.   After all, “love is the reason that the past is gone…” therefore, “love is alive in the choice you make to give it away.”

Scripture teaches this pattern all of the time.  Simply take examples from John’s writing: such as 1 John 3:16:20, “ We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters…Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything.”

Despite how you might feel today after the hurricane of holiday doings that was, and despite the anxiety you might be feeling for tackling a whole new year with new challenges, questions and fears – God is still God.  The true believer in Jesus is still completely loved and forgiven!  And we are still indwelt by His Spirit for the purpose of loving others with His love.  So cheer up!  Be encouraged!  Newness for the Christian is a good thing.   Happy New Year.

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