Starting Over, Again
By DANNY MINTON
Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s the time people make promises for the New Year. Actually, the only thing that has changed is that the number “2” becomes a “3” at the end of the date. Diet books and magazines will disappear from store shelves. Bikes, treadmills, weights, and many other exercising pieces will make their way into homes, soon to sit quietly collecting dust. Many will start reading their Bible with plans to read it through, then become bogged down as they enter Leviticus. Still, the first of the year is viewed as a time to “Start Over” in improving our minds, health, and spirit. Some will succeed, and others will stumble, but either way, when the “3” changes to “4,” we will repeat the process.
God is all for us starting over; in fact, He encourages it and lets us know we don’t have to wait a whole year to do it. The Bible is full of people getting second chances to get their act together or become better. Adam and Eve faced removal from the garden, but God never abandoned them. When God saw that the world had become so bad that He felt the need to destroy it, He gave us a second chance through a man of faith named Noah. The book of Judges repeats the story over and over of how people turned away from God and then looked to Him for help when things got bad. He never turned them down.
In Jesus, we see someone who encouraged people to try again. A woman caught in adultery received the simple message, “Go and sin no more.” In other words, “I’m giving you another chance to improve your life.” Over and over, people would come to him for healing or advice, and he always encouraged them, giving them hope and a new opportunity to change for the better. A tax collector, a Zealot, an adulteress, a leper, and a thief were a few to whom Jesus gave a second chance.
What about us? We don’t have to wait a year for a second chance. Jesus gives us one every day. If we fail, He lets us try again. If we stumble, He picks us up and helps us on our way. If we lose our way, He offers a way back. No matter how often or how many times, He will always be there to help us in “Starting Over.” This is evident in the words of John, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV2011)
Luke relates the story that Jesus told of a man whose son took and squandered his inheritance. When the young man comes to his senses, he humbly returns to his father. Without reprimand or harsh words, his father accepts him home. In the same way, God wants us home, and He’s willing to forget the past if we desire a better future.
Sometimes we fail, but when we do, we must realize that failure can’t beat us unless we allow it. The great baseball player, Babe Ruth, was asked about all his strikeouts. He answered, “For every strikeout, I’m one more at-bat closer to another home run.” After his first screen test, a famous actor received a note, “Can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little.” He kept the note framed in his Hollywood mansion. His name was Fred Astaire. Both are reminders that we all have second chances; we only need to take advantage when they come along.
Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV2011)
I don’t know what your New Year’s Resolution will be, but I do know if you fail, don’t quit. Get up and start again. If you fail again, get up and start over. Every failure is one step closer to success. The same goes for your spiritual life. Jesus died to give us the gift of second chances. Take advantage of the gift. It was paid for by someone who loves you dearly. Remember, it’s never too late to start over again.
Danny Minton is a former Elder and minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ