Encouragement

Fresh Starts

The man huddled by the campfire rubbing his hands together in the chilly night air.  His nerves felt raw, exposed.  Once, he dreamed of new opportunity for his family and peace for his beloved nation. He used to anticipate the bright days, just over the horizon.  Now, he wondered if he could survive the night.  Would he dare see his family again or quietly disappear into the hillsides to keep them safe?

A voice broke into his dark thoughts. “Hey, aren’t you one of them?”

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about,” he gruffly replied moving away from the fire. As he hurried down the street, a girl pointed him out to her friends.

“Hey, that guy was one of them!”  The language of his past tumbled freely out of his tongue as he cursed at the girl and her group and frantically denied any knowledge of a recently arrested criminal and his gang.

Eventually the man found another campfire, further down the road.  After a few hours of silence, he began to speak to another man nearby. Immediately, others overheard and accusingly said, “Hey, you’re one of that gang!”

Peter completed his descent from champion to coward.  After a string of words, he hadn’t used in three years he shouted, “I don’t know the man!” and raced off into the hillsides before the coming dawn revealed his features completely.  A rooster crowed in a yard as he ran by.

If ever someone needed a new beginning, it was Peter, the fallen disciple.  In three, short conversations, he denied three years of intense, loving relationship with Jesus.  He burned his bridges and returned to his old life.  His dreams of a promising future lay shattered back on the brick roads of Jerusalem, still stained with Jesus’ blood.  Worse yet, if what Jesus spoke about his resurrection came true it changed nothing in Peter’s life now.  The new kingdom would not welcome a blasphemous, lying coward like himself.

What dreams of yours currently lay in ashes?  Whether by your own hand or another’s, broken dreams make for damaged hearts.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” Solomon said in Proverbs 13:12 Nobody imagines and hopes for failed relationships, financial losses and setbacks, lost jobs, unproductive ministries, sickly bodies and minds and unexpected catastrophes.

We dream of loving families, satisfying careers, strong bodies and healthy checkbooks.  When hopes are shattered against the hard rocks of life, like Peter, we need restoration.  As popular Bible teacher, Joyce Meyer, says, “When we are disappointed we need God to reappoint us.”   This is exactly what Christ did for Peter along the same shoreline where they first met.  He will do it for you too.

Where do you need a fresh start? There are so many creative ways God can bring new life into the dead places of yours.   In my life, quite often the new beginning occurs inside of me.  When I am humble before Him, faithful in the word and prayer, He changes me so that I can face an unchanging circumstance with a new perspective.

Sometimes, he will open new doors for me with jobs I didn’t look for and provisions I didn’t expect.  A few times he’s changed many things at once.  Twenty-one years ago, he changed my house, my job and my ministry all at once.  The new beginnings I eventually experienced after that were like the little plants peeking up in my yard right now.  It will be at least another month of warm weather and sunshine before all my gardens are completely up and running.  That’s the way God’s new beginnings can be also.

We must be sensitive to the Spirit plus be champion listeners and lookers to see those tiny little buds of new, green growth are pushing up through all the dead debris of our life’s winter seasons.  If you’re looking for a maple tree to suddenly spring up in your life you will miss what God is doing with that little seed that is sending out its first shoot.

God is the only permanent healer of minds and hearts weary from disappointments, failures and setbacks.  Anytime we look to anything or anyone else to do what only He can do, we set ourselves up for more disappointment.  Like Peter, we often lack clear understanding of God’s kingdom and ways.  When God’s plans don’t match up with our expectations, it hurts.  Peter expected Jesus to rule and reign in an earthly kingdom.  Peter expected an entirely different life for his family and fellow Jews.  Peter expected to hold a place of honor in this new kingdom.  How the soul becomes so heartsick when so many dreams are crushed.

Spring comes but once a year but new beginnings happen every day with God. Bring to him today all the dreams yet unfulfilled in your open hands.  Let him remove those that simply aren’t right for you and trust Him to bring to pass those which are.  Look for ways to cooperate with Him. Look for the places for new life and new possibilities that He places in seed form in front of you.  As long as this life lasts you can put hope in the truth that God is always up to something new.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

 

 

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