It’s hard to believe another year is nearly in the books. Twelve months ago we were peering into the unknown days of 2018, and now nearly all of them are complete. If you’re going to accomplish a goal or keep last year’s resolution, you’d better get busy for the time is short!
One tradition that has become popular around the world is to watch the ball drop in New York City. For those fortunate enough not to be in the freezing cold of an enormous city at midnight, you can watch it take the plunge from the safety, privacy and warmth of your own living room via your television.
But why do they do that anyway? What does a falling ball have to do with New Years? It turns out that this tradition dates back a couple hundred years to when falling items were used by sea captains to measure time. Some locations even dropped a ball to mark noontime each day not unlike the fire siren in Woodstock does. So when the publisher of the New York Times got turned down for a New Year’s fireworks permit in 1907, he decided to drop a lighted ball instead. And thus began the tradition that continues to this day.
According to unverified internet sources, balls aren’t the only things that are dropped. In Mobile, Alabama, it’s a t12-foot moon pie; in Pensacola, Florida, it’s a lighted pelican named Pensy; in Plymouth, Wisconsin, it’s a large wedge of, you guessed it, cheese! Not to be outdone, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, drops 200 pounds of bologna, Mt. Olive, North Carolina, lowers a glowing green pickle (what else?), and Clay’s Corner Store in Brasstown, North Carolina, drops the annual New Year’s possum.
Since Galileo proved that an object’s weight doesn’t affect its speed of falling, it really doesn’t matter what you drop, unless of course, you’re the unfortunate possum or happen to be under the bologna. This fact of physics is yet another verification of an all-wise Creator who designed and timed this universe perfectly.
So what will you drop on New Year’s Eve? Is there some habit that’s been hindering your physical health or your spiritual growth that you need to let fall by the wayside? Is there some hatred or bitterness you’ve been lugging around all year exhausting yourself emotionally and physically? Is there some guilt lodged in your backpack determined to weigh you down and hold you back? New Year’s is a perfect time to jettison such hindrances.
Imagine a track athlete trying to clear hurdles with a locomotive strapped to his back, or picture a pole vaulter with lead running shoes. Sometimes we attempt equally foolish feats just by trying to live normal lives while holding onto those things that encumber us.
The new year stretches out before us like an Olympic oval. There will be some hurdles, some turns and some straights. If we are to navigate it successfully and post a respectable time, we must drop whatever would hold us back. In Hebrews 12 we are told to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
In another passage, Paul compares his own life to a race well-run and describes the rewards laid up for him in heaven. He was clear that his good deeds didn’t earn his eternal life. That was secured by his faith in Christ’s blood alone. But his determination to make every day count for Jesus would enable him to enjoy spiritual blessings both here and in heaven that are equally available to every believer.
Life often does feel like a race. It is frequently grueling and tiresome, but some of that agony is self-inflicted when we refuse to drop those things that slow us down and trip us up. As we prepare to watch another ball drop in Times Square, let’s also resolve to drop our own burdensome baggage that we might be ready to faithfully run the course marked out for us in 2019. Happy New Year! George.