Fresh Starts & Strong Finishes

Fresh Starts & Strong FInishes

Originally Posted by Mike Young September 2006

School started for our children this week. Some systems had already started, but in general I think we all view the week after Labor Day as a time of re-starting routines and schedules that will carry us through the fall. I have experienced the beginning of the school year as a student, teacher, administrator and a parent. In each case I never liked for the carefree days of summer to end but it was nice to start off fresh each year with a new attitude, new friends, teachers, students, clothes, books etc.

Our boys feel the same way. Tim, Zach and Ben got on the bus (in the rain) on Tuesday with smiling faces. Tim and Zach are veterans but the whole thing is new for Ben. They all started out fresh with excitement and enthusiasm. They had a great first day but by the third day Ben had decided that Pre-School was a much better deal. It wasn’t as long, it was only three days a week and he got to play more. So, the novelty of the new experience has already lost some of its luster. I’m sure he’s not the only one with these sentiments.

You know, it really doesn’t matter what it is, starting a new project or adventure is always exciting and fun. I like writing in a new notebook for the first time. I even enjoy taking the first scoop of peanut butter out of a new jar. We all love the smell of a new car. But, once the newness wears off, it’s just another notebook, or jar of peanut butter. Or maybe the adventure wasn’t as fun as we thought it would be. I think God knew how we would feel about new things.

I’m not sure how it is with you but there are some days that I’m anxious to see come to an end. When things don’t go well or I’m exhausted and frustrated, when it seems I’ve lost battle after battle with everyone and everything all day long. I’m done. I want to start over. Thankfully God designed a system that helps in that regard. I am thankful for the rest of nighttime that often allows us to put yesterday’s frustrations behind and begin a new campaign as the sun rises. I love what Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:22-23; Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  We need to be reminded of that promise from time to time.

But, sometimes things get so bad that ‘sleeping on it’ doesn’t fix our problems or put them into perspective. I know many who say, “I’ve messed up so bad that there’s no way I can get back on track. Even God can’t fix the mess that I’ve created.” If you know someone with that level of frustration, here’s a verse you can share with them, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” II Corinthians 5:17. Christ can change us right where we are, from what we are, to something new and fresh that is pleasing and acceptable to God. That doesn’t mean that He will magically transform your circumstances or surroundings like Dorothy was transported back to Kansas from Oz. But he will change your heart and give you tools and courage to begin working on the other things.

And that brings me to a final thought. It’s not how you start that’s so important. It’s how you finish. I often hear stories from men who didn’t start out making good decisions. But, it’s never too late for a transformation to occur. Think about Paul. He started out as a persecutor of the church… the worst of the worst… In Acts 22-20 he says, “And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” But God got a hold of him and transformed his life. He became an apostle and a missionary. God inspired him to start churches and disciple young ministers. Through the Spirit’s inspiration he wrote letters to the first century churches that comprise much of the New Testament. He didn’t start well but he finished well. Telling young Timothy, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Regardless of how we started let’s all plan to walk with God and finish strong.

Mike

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