Starting again

The writer of Ecclesiastes says there’s a season for all things. I won’t list them all here as I’d need to quote most of the book, but read it and see.

We have seasons in our lives. Times when we go through great triumph and times of great sorrow. Living in a world that has fallen so far from its intended design makes us prone to the pitfalls of depression, anxiety, pain and death we all share. Recently we lost a great comic man, Robin Williams, to depression. What could have been will forever be a question we will ask, but he wasn’t the only one to succumb that day. Many more unnamed and unknown lost the same battle as they couldn’t see past the winter they were in to the spring that could come.

I attempted suicide in 1999 after an exceptionally bad year that saw a lost engagement, cancer and death. I couldn’t see a way out or an end to the winter I was in. So four times I tried to end my life. By mid 2000 I was through the darkest time, and now – fifteen years later – I’ve had seasons of joy and sorrow. Growth and setbacks. It’s hard to imagine, but every day I get the chance to start again.

For a long time I didn’t see it, but we can all say that.

We need to remember to pray, to lean on God through the hard times. Allow His strength to hold us up irrespective of the pain we feel. God is not limited by what we go through. He’s only limited by what we allow Him to do in our lives. Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in His home-town because of the people’s lack of faith, not His.

Starting over is easier than we think when we’re in the middle of the fight. But God is able to overcome any battle we experience. He is bigger than any problem we face. Paul reminds us in his exhortation in Ephesians 3:20 that God “…is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us“.

According to the power at work in us. The amount of power we allow Him to use to turn our life round and get us back on track. A nuclear power plant can generate enough power to fuel a city, but all that power can be used to only light a single 40 watt bulb if we choose. I sit using a computer more powerful than the processors that allowed man to set foot on the moon – albeit with different software – but I don’t use even half of what it is capable of as a writer. Even when I branch out into graphic design, which I’ve done once or twice, it doesn’t tax the power of this machine.

We can turn the power on to start us over again. If a car stalls we don’t just sit in it, we turn the ignition and restart the engine. God calls us to do the same. No matter the issues, the sin, the fall. God sits like the starter-motor or the nuclear power plant just waiting for us to tap into His strength and start over.

We sit and think “I can never start over. Not with my life.” But remember the Prodigal Son. He rehearsed the speech to his father every step of the way home. Ask to be made a servant. Don’t expect more. But his very arrival home and approaching his father as the man had wanted hm to do opened up a welcome above all he could ask or think, just like Paul wrote. The son took the first step and the father bridged the gap. More than he dared ask for. More than he was entitled to. But notice in the prodigal’s story, he allows his father to welcome him home.

We have to do the same.

We need to allow God to welcome us. Taking the first step is often no more than just simply asking for help. Turning back to Him and starting to move towards Jesus again gets our Abba-Father running towards us to throw His arms around us and weep tears of joy into our hearts as we come home. But it begins with us humbling ourselves.

Humble isn’t what we think it is. I’m not taking about self-deprecation here, but simply trying to make ourselves out to be something He didn’t make us – more or less than He made us. Humility isn’t about grovelling, it’s about honesty. And that honesty is the first step to a new start.

I’m not perfect. I’m not even a great example in many ways, but I have learned that starting over is simply a question of accepting I can’t do it alone and I wasn’t meant to. Trying to take my own life and failing allowed God to reach me. I was saved all over again by His mercy when after four tries I turned to Him instead of trying to die. I started living again when I started over.

No, I started living again when I acknowledged I needed to start over. Once I’d done that, actually seeking Him to help me was easy.

In the world’s eyes success is measured by what we have. In God’s it’s measured by how much we’ll trust Him. He longs for us to start over in areas of our lives every day that are not given to Him. My grandfather died at the age of 80 just a week after phoning me to share his excitement at the new things God was showing him after 64 years as a Christian. He was moving in new areas of his life he’d not given over up to the day he went to be with his Lord. Grandad learned to start over every single day.

I want to as well. It’s something we all need to do on a daily basis.

Just start over.

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