The idea of starting over and moving into an unknown is a daunting feeling. Often I find myself moving in one direction that I think is where I should go, but my path is changed. Even when I think I am following God’s path for my life, I can never be sure. Moments like this cause me to face the process of starting over. This has happened in my past, through the process of salvation, and it happens continuously. I’m sure we all face this on a regular basis, and to be completely honest, I don’t always want to change. My human self wants to stay safe, safe in the arms of complacency. Risks are unknowns to all of us, the outcome is often built up drastically in our heads, and we use that as an excuse to not change. Over and over in my life, I see myself taking steps in one way, thinking it is the best way, but it feels like the door that was once open, has now been slammed in my face. This is an awful feeling. Doubts are built up in my head, and I begin to doubt my potential. Whether it’s due to mistakes in our past, or the fear of new things, we refuse the gift of starting over.
Notice how that paragraph ended with the word “gift” used to describe starting over, yeah I did that on purpose. It is a good thing to start over, and I know this is true because I have been reading about one of the strongest leaders in the bible that started over. Paul was an amazing servant of the Lord who wrote most of the New Testament, but before he was Paul, he was a terrorist. His birth name was Saul and he was responsible for the capture and murder of Christians, but when God stops him where he stood, he gave Saul the chance to start over. He really started over, completely changing his career, I guess being a terrorist was his career (A bit creepy if you ask me), and giving him a new name. I hope none of you are in the business of being a killer, but God wants to help you start over. In reading through the ministry of Paul, I think there are three key elements that God has in regards to giving you the gift of starting over.
Your past does not define your future.
One of the biggest lies that Satan or the world may throw at you, is that you can never do anything good because of what you have done. This is so wrong, we all screw up and no one is perfect, so don’t be depressed because you won’t be perfect. God doesn’t use perfect people, he uses the broken. I have to remind myself that no matter how much I’ve screwed up, God wants to use me and elevate me from the dirt. If God can take a murderer and change him to becoming one of the most famous leaders in the bible, he can use you and me. The coolest thing about God is that he gives us another chance, something that I have been witnessing first hand from some of the hardships that I have witnessed and experienced through this past year. I have seen friends find their way back to Gods plan, I have seen the church rally around the family of a friend who passed away, and I have seen the redemptive possibilities that are here for my family. While my stories may seem distant, I know that you have been going through hard times as well. Let me tell you that your past and the struggles you have faced will never define your future. Your future is defined by how you follow Christ.
Trials Produce perseverance.
When we are faced with starting over, it is often the result of a struggle or problem that has risen up in our life. Unless you are an optimist, it’s not easy to see the good in situations like this, situations that test us and cause us to question everything. Paul during his time of ministry, faced many trials. He was imprisoned and faced death over and over, but he saw the purpose that it would be used for. Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” In the midst of the hard times and looking in the face of starting over, we have hope. A hope that is pure and godly, one that will give us a vision for more, rather than a fear of what might happen. The struggles we face guide us to the path we were meant to walk. So what does this mean to start over? Starting over essentially translates to redirecting my vision to where God wants me to be. Our passions may change, our path may have a shut door for us to find a new path, or God may have a sudden direction he takes you. All through the changes, when we keep God first, the rest will fall into place. This may mean changing a profession, not chasing after that one dream but following another, or letting go of things that will hold you back. Remember that in all things, even the trials, God will guide you.
Change is ongoing.
This is the final piece, and it’s the one you may wish I hadn’t revealed. The process of starting over and fully following Christ is continual, meaning that we are never fully finished. We have to constantly be redirecting our minds towards what will give us life. This is why fasting is such an essential part of our walk, taking something that we have elevated to the highest place in our life, and cutting it out for a season in order to focus on what is truly important in life. Currently, Daystar Church is in the time of their twenty one days of prayer and fasting, I am participating because it is such a life giving time to cut something out and grow in Christ. We are praying for a revival to come not only to our church, but to our city. It gets me excited to know that so many are on the same page of craving more of what God has in store for all of us. So ask yourself, what am I holding on to that prevents me from connecting with God? Knowing that the change will be continual and a process that we must strive for.
The hope I have for you and myself is that we would both learn to start over. To hit the reset button for our life and follow God rather than our own desires. This thought of starting over can feel massive, like looking at a mountain and realizing how small we really are in comparison. The thing we forget when gazing upon the mountain is that we follow the God who created all things, put the stars in the sky, and crafted that mountain with his hands. That same God is with you. God may have you change your path, your dreams may radically change, but that same God will never leave you. He has never left me, and trust me when I say this, because I have faced many mountains in my life. God will help us overcome our toughest mountains when we redirect our focus on him alone. Don’t be afraid, God is with you. No matter what you have faced in the past, no matter what trials you face, and no matter how hard the change may seem, God will always be with you.
Start over with Christ.