Working for A Fresh Start
Working for A Fresh Start
Easter morning! The sunrise brings the promise of a new day. We gather to share our faith and lift our voices in song. We believe that better things are yet to come. Although we often fall short, we seek to reset our behaviors, thoughts, and actions to align with the example and leadership provided by Jesus. We celebrate the resurrection. Our joyfulness so profound, perhaps overwhelming, that we can easily forget that Easter is also a time for fresh starts.
We all reach times in our lives when we need a fresh start. We need to reset because things aren’t going the way we planned. Our marriage or relationship is troubled, the job isn’t fun anymore, finances are strained, or our health may be failing. We didn’t plan for these circumstances, but nonetheless, they’re here. We pray for deliverance, but it seems our prayers go unanswered. It would be easy to become discouraged, but singer TobyMac (2015) reminds us “it ain’t over yet.”
Fresh starts aren’t easy; no change is. We sometimes fail to see the possibility of a fresh start because we fight the desire to give up the control. It isn’t that we don’t want to change. It’s that we can’t see the big picture. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to change when we can’t see the whole picture. We want to know the ending before we start. Don’t you know people that want to know how the movies ends before they see it or that read the ending of the book first? Rev. Billy Graham taught us “that God sees the whole picture, while we see only a little part. God knows what He is doing, and He can be trusted to do what is right according to His perfect plan.”
God knew the resurrection wasn’t the end, it was our fresh start. The resurrection wasn’t reserved solely for Jesus, in fact the Bible contains 10 examples of resurrection (M. Fairchild, 2020). The difference is that Jesus made it possible for all of us to have “a fresh start.” But we can’t just claim a fresh start; we have to do the work of learning and doing things differently. We call this “growth.”
Our growth begins with at least two realizations. The first is change won’t happen if we continue to do the same things. Using the same strategies, techniques and behaviors will usually yield the same results. The second, and more important, realization is that our plans are not necessarily the plans that God has for us. We might not always get it, but His plans are always for our good (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB). Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
A fresh start begins with relying on God. It demands faith and requires that we take the first step. Have you ever heard someone say something like “I turned it over to God”? It’s not that easy, we can’t abdicate our responsibility. God requires that we do the work. If you want to quit smoking, you must put down the cigarette before God will provide the strength to keep you from picking it up again. We must handle the things we can, He will handle the things we can’t.
Change doesn’t happen by chance; it’s an intentional act. Change requires a structure that helps build and enhance our relationship with God, and others, by showing others that we believe in them. Max Lucado in, Begin again: Your Hope and Renewal Start Today (2020), presents a structure for starting fresh in our relationship with God, or any other person for the matter. Starting fresh requires that we:
1.Show up. Have you ever gone somewhere you really didn’t want to be? Chances are good you didn’t enjoy yourself; chances are also pretty good that others didn’t enjoy you being there either. Showing up isn’t just about being physically present; it is about being actively engaged and doing the work. We show up by studying the Bible, attending church to praise and worship, serving others and of course praying. When we do these things consistently, we can, as Jesus said, “begin to Love God with all our passion and prayer and intelligence and energy (Mark 12:30-31, MSG).”
2.Listen up. Listening is more than hearing. Active listening involves communicating our care and concern for others and what they have to say. Active listening is a communication skill that requires practice; fortunately courses, books and articles are readily available online (provided in the challenge below).
3.Speak up. Choose your words wisely; they can either heal or hurt. Ephesians 4:29 (NCV) tells us: “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.”
Challenge: Remember that a fresh start requires doing the work. Read Active Listening: Why It Matters and 8 Tips for Success, afterwards watch Moses and the Burning Bush (The Ten Commandments, 1956); video clips are available on YouTube. How many of the steps can you identify in the movie scene? Drop me a line and let me know what they are.
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