Sarah breathed a sigh of relief as she fluffed her new purple bedspread. It was exactly what she had wanted for Christmas, ever since she’d seen it on shelf at Target just after Thanksgiving.
“Look, Mom!” she had pleaded. “It matches the flower border in my room! It’s reversible too, so I can have it either plain purple or purple polka-dots. And it’s even on sale.”
Sarah had picked up the bulky package and twirled right there in the aisle at Target.
“Put it back, Sarah,” Mom said. “Christmas will be here soon enough. Remember you need to be good if you want to get the presents you ask for.”
Sarah had been good. She’d been nice to her younger sister, Lizzy. She’d cleared the table after every dinner and done her homework without being asked. But now Christmas was over. She could let her guard down. Sarah glanced at the desk in the corner of her bedroom. Her green and purple backpack sat in the chair, untouched since the last day of school. She knew that her one homework assignment was tucked into the English folder. She pulled it out.
Miss Warner had written on the assignment page: “Write down three New Year’s resolutions. Tell me what they are, why you are making them and how you plan to keep them. Be ready to talk about them in class.”
It was December 28th. The new year was still three days away. Three days, thought Sarah. For three days I’m going to relax. I’m not going to be so careful about being nice to Lizzy, or worry about doing the dishes. I need a break. Besides, I’ll start over being really good after I make my New Year’s resolutions.
Sarah placed the folder on top of her desk so she wouldn’t forget about the homework, but there was no need to do it right away. She grabbed her sketch book and headed outside. As she passed her sister’s room, Lizzy stuck her head out the door.
“Where you goin’, Sarah?” she asked.
“No where you can go,” Sarah replied without stopping.
Mother overhead their conversation. She frowned at Sarah, but didn’t say anything. Sarah skipped out the door.
After dinner that night, Sarah slid from her chair and scooted her sock feet across the linoleum.
“I’m going to go finish my book,” she announced.
“After you help clear the table, you may go read your book.” Daddy snagged Sarah’s hand as she walked by. “You’ve been so cheerful about helping lately.” He looked sad. “What happened?”
Sarah looked down at the toes of her dirty socks.
“Well, I had to be good before Christmas in order to get presents,” she said. “And I know I need to be good after I make New Year’s resolutions to be nice and helpful. But I thought that for three days I could just relax and not worry about being extra good.”
Daddy pulled Sarah into his lap and stretched his long arm toward the bookshelf in the dining room. He grabbed the big Bible that had his daddy’s name engraved on the cover.
“I want you to hear a Bible verse, Sarah,” Daddy said. He opened big leather book to Galatians 6. “Will you read verse nine to me?”
“We can't allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way. Certainly, each of us will receive [everlasting life] at the proper time, if we don't give up.”
“What does that have to do with my New Year’s resolutions?” Sarah asked.
“Sarah, we are supposed to try to be good and obey God all the time, not starting on certain days and being good for certain lengths of time. Of course, we mess up often, and then we have to ask God’s forgiveness and start over, but we do it right away. We don’t wait for the New Year.”
Sarah nodded slowly, so Daddy kept going. “Besides there are lots of times to start over. There are new days, and new minutes, and new seconds. So, it’s always a good time to begin anew to try to love God and other people. That’s what God does for us.”
He flipped the pages to another verse, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“This verse means that no matter how many times we mess up or make mistakes, because Jesus paid for our sins, God has washed us clean and sees us like brand new, righteous people. It’s because we have been forgiven, and we get new chances to start over every time we mess up, (which is a lot) that we want to obey God and be good and kind to others.”
Sarah slid off Daddy’s knee.
“I understand,” she said. “And I’m going to start over right now. May I take your empty plate to the kitchen?”
Daddy smiled at Sarah.
“Thank you, Sweetheart. In fact, I’ll help you clear the table.”