‘It’s the first day of the rest of my life’ – how often do we hear these words? Surprisingly often it seems to me – I hear it after a wedding when a glowing couple announce that today is the first day of the rest of their lives. I hear it sometimes after baptisms and confirmations – today is a new start the first day of the rest of my life. We all hear it after a New Year celebration – this year will be good (better even) and my new life starts today. It is the meaning behind every resolution made on the 1st January – this year I will (delete as appropriate) lose weight, give up smoking, cut down on booze, be sensible with money, clear out the shed/garage/wardrobe etc. Today is the first day of the rest of my life – we say it about the deep and meaningful as well as the frivolous and cosmetic.
But as a Christian I give thanks and I say it everyday – not just after a life altering event or occasion, and certainly not just on 1st January – but, today I can begin again and today is the first day of the rest of my life. This doesn’t stop me being thankful for what has passed or sad for what is lost but it does make me face the reality of now. The reality that I can and do get it wrong – that I can and do make mistakes (people who never make mistakes never make anything!) Each day God gives the gift of a new day, a new day to be refreshed and begin again. A new day to try again to live in love with ourselves and our neighbours. A new day to start again – we all need a second or third or even fourth chance sometimes.
We never know what each day will bring and remembering that today is the first day of the rest or ay even be the last day of my life as a sinner yes but also as a forgiven one, gives me a sense of realism and perspective which I think the late, great Steve Jobs summed up way better that I can “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important”. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. (and I would add follow God, who came that we might live) Happy New Year, and may TODAY be the first day of the rest of you life!