Have you ever had some song or jingle repeating itself over and over again in your head, and the only way to get rid of it was to start singing a new song?
A new year is a great time to pause and think about what might be called the "old song" of one’s life. If it’s filled with God’s goodness, it’s something to keep singing. But if it’s a stale, tired, repetitive jingle that presents itself repeatedly – a still sick, still poor, still limited, or sad song that we’ve been singing, isn’t it time for a new one? A song of fresh joy, renewal, reawakening – a never sick, never poor, never sad song of healing expectancy?
In five different psalms (songs), and in the book of Isaiah in the Bible, we’re encouraged to do this: "Sing unto the Lord a new song" (Ps. 96:1). This can involve recognizing the powerful presence of God as Life, Truth, and Love in our lives and in the world. It keeps the focus on His power. Its intent is to explore the reservoirs of peace and goodwill that surround us, even though at times it’s hard to see them. Singing a new song helps open our eyes to God’s tender, caring love.
And how do we learn this new song? The psalmist says God "has put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" (40:3, New International Version). This promises that we get this new song from Him. It isn’t something we have to try to figure out ourselves. It’s not about human effort to make a change, which is so often unsuccessful. (Look at how many new year’s resolutions fall by the wayside within weeks, if not days!)
No, this new song is not about how much weight one wants to lose or how much money one wants to earn. It’s a whole different way of thinking. It’s a less material and more spiritual attitude that doesn’t depend on personal ability or drive. It’s not a human outline. It’s not about trying harder at the same old way of thinking and doing. It’s about learning a new skill – listening for and yielding to a higher, more spiritual understanding of life and purpose.
In learning something new, I’ve found that I need to put aside any fear about letting go of the old and familiar. It seems so much easier to settle for the known, even though it may be flawed or burdensome, than to venture out into the unknown. But I’ve found that simply being willing makes all the difference. Am I open to making the change? Willingness is a sign of readiness.
The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, is a great example of willingness to sing a new song. Her old one included years of poor health, poverty, grief, misunderstanding. But her willingness and trust in God’s goodness gave her a new song to sing, and its outcome was a total change that made her life a powerful blessing for humanity. She wrote: "Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 323–324). And her life shows that she practiced trusting in God daily.
So here are a few questions I’m asking myself as the old year recedes and the new one advances:
Am I willing to be childlike and receptive to a new way of thinking and acting this year?
Do I trust God enough to let the Holy Spirit lead?
What’s the new song that I need to be singing?
Let’s all hear what God wants us to sing this year – and sing only that. There’s nothing so contagious as a lively, beautiful song. Everyone feels impelled to join in.