This one is a little personal:
For a long time, I thought fresh starts made me seem indecisive and unsettled. We live in a society where people are commended for sticking through things even if they break their backs – and homes – doing it. I’m beginning to think perhaps I should embrace fresh starts and understand that if indeed my steps are ordered by the Lord, then in the major areas, and even in the minor, these things are not even within my control.
Starting over is such a part of the Christian life and even of daily life. It will be for as long as we sojourn in this world. We started over when we became Christians. We start over every time we repent. We start over when we are reconciled with others. Everybody gets a fresh start every twenty four hours, with each morning that is filled with brand new mercies straight from the throne of God, specially packaged to see us through the next twenty-four hours.
September was a roller-coaster month of closed chapters, paused chapters, fresh starts, big mistakes, big decisions, second-guessing those big decisions, and serious regrouping. Suddenly, Matthew 6:33 and Joshua 24:15 were convicting on a level that forced me to make a choice concerning the path I was going to choose to tread. I learned many things about myself, about relationships, and about the Lord. I was reminded that we have to be honest with ourselves in all things, totally relinquish the right to hurt those who have hurt us, and understand that if we were to have our way every time, we would not be the children of God. I am going through the book of Isaiah with a friend this month and chapter 1 just reinforces the fact that I needed to make some changes.
I was reflecting on all the new beginnings two days ago when I realized that this is October – the eighth month. It’s barely the third day of the month, and already, it’s going quite interestingly. Because of patterns that can be observed in the Bible, I happen to believe numbers are significant, and I know that eight is the number of new beginnings. I’m sure you know all this: The eighth day is the first day of a new week. Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Eight people on Noah’s ark (Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives – Noah himself referred to as the “eighth person”) started over after the whole earth was wiped out. The Israelite child was to be circumcised on the eighth day. The eighth musical note (do) is the beginning of the next octave. And so on. I love it… I could go on and on about this. I love the patterns that we find in the Bible.
In every season in life we have to make a choice to either submerge ourselves into mediocrity or glorify God by making the most of the season. Our actions every morning set the pace for the rest of the day, for instance. If you don’t want tomorrow to play out like yesterday, you’ve got to make a choice and say a prayer today.
I’ve shed so many things and it might take some getting used to. I’m going to have to hang in there and stick with situations I do not particularly enjoy, even if just for this season. I’m going to have to truly trust Jesus in that which I have committed to Him. I have to decide to know that He will guard that which I have committed to Him. It’s enjoyable, interesting, even comical at times. It’s also difficult – earlier today I remember thinking, “Ish.. the Lord really likes to spoil my fun.” I’m thankful that He messes up my plans and spoils my fun. At the end of the day, He is not that interested in my being entertained. He requires holiness.
The one thing that we do not like to think about is that we do get to pay a price for walking with God. Yes, it is finished, and yes, we are saved by grace and not by works. Still, Jesus said that if we do not forsake everyone and everything, we cannot be His disciples. If I’m unwilling to let some phone calls go to voicemail, if I must have the approval of everyone, if I’m unable to forsake even my own self and humble myself and seek the forgiveness of others, if I cannot forsake, for His sake, that which I love and am convinced is perfect for me, if I cannot shut up even when I know speaking would bring me popularity and attention, then I cannot be His disciple. I am not endorsing the Message Bible, but I like the way it renders Philippians 3:7-8:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.
I do not want to just scratch the surface of my relationship with God. He is not interested in church attendance or loud announcements. If I have “blood on my hands” and if I am holding on to secret sins or even seemingly harmless things that draw me away from God, I know from His Word that He will not hear me, and it is impossible to be close to God if we are not willing to humble ourselves and recognize our need for Him. He will not love us any less, but He will not let us continue in mediocrity and think that everything is hunky-dory. He will go as far as I’m willing to go.
I know… quite the cryptic post, and you might conclude that I’m talking about this issue or that person, but it’s technically about me.
Have a fresh month!