Starting over — again, and again, and again

Some memories are soon lost and some linger. One of my favorite lingering ones is listening to a father-son guitar and vocal duet titled “The Land of Beginning Again.” Poor decisions had divided these two singers but they had decided to let their past be past and start over again. Their song, though an old one, was new to me and its heart warming message of harmony being restored in their family has been unforgettable.

Some quotes have endured through generations even though the names of those who originated them have been forgotten. Here’s an old one that deserves repeating: “The Christian life is made up of many beginnings.”

Does this mean there is no crucial moment when faith is born? Not at all!

When a respected religious leader came to our Lord to ask how to receive eternal life, he was told he needed to be born again; to experience a spiritual birth (John 3).

We celebrate birthdays because they remind us of a crucial moment in time when one was born. And the birth of faith deserves recognition.

What then did the one who spoke of “many beginnings” mean?

This unnamed one referred to the many times we make sincere commitments and promises to the Lord on which, for any number of reasons, we don’t carry through.

What shall we do about past promises on which we’ve not delivered? Shall we forget about them? Discard them? Spend our lives feeling depressed over not keeping our commitments? Consider ourselves failures and determine never to make another promise to God? Lose heart over the future because of poor past performances?

Absolutely not!

Why not, instead, make a new beginning?

When I checked my voicemail late one night there was a request for a return call from a man I hadn’t seen or heard from in many years. Soon we were talking about his past struggles and present needs, one of which was his need to make a new beginning.

Is it possible?

What about all those broken past promises?

How can we be sure of full forgiveness?

   In my book “Lord, I’m Afraid,” providing poetic help and Biblical promise to overcome fears, I offered the verse below for those who fear they can’t be forgiven:

Lord, I’m afraid

You’re tired of me.

I’m back again

Confessing the same sin.

I meant well, but fell.

Can you forgive me again?

And again?

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

No matter their past failures, forgiven ones can start over — again.

 

Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at rcministry@ameritech.net.

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