Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Begin Again...

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him 
and was filled with compassion for him; 
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20 NIV

We hear the phrases often:
  • It's time for a fresh start...
  • It's never too late to begin again...
  • Let's go back to the beginning...
  • Can I get a do-over?
But, in this life, we are accustomed to TRUE, and REAL "fresh starts" as being few and far between. I mean, how many "fresh starts" do we REALLY get?
Think about it:
  • You can retake a class for a better grade, but you still have to pay again.
  • You can make bail and get out of jail, but it's probably still on your record.
  • You can apologize to someone for a wrong thing you have done, but they will likely remember it and have a hard time rebuilding the trust that was lost.
I am a big fan of fresh starts.  I just re-dedicated myself to a more structured workout program.  I grew "lazy" a couple years ago and started to workout for 15 minutes rather than a half hour, and I was starting to really see the repercussions of that.  I was taking a lot of short-cuts in my workouts and not doing the hard moves in the right way.  I needed to get to a place where I was ready to BEGIN AGAIN.

Another place where I often find I need a "fresh start" is in my spiritual life.  How many times have you set a goal for reading scripture, having a more robust prayer life, or volunteering with church or in the community only to watch it dissolve away?  However, you eventually come to your senses and realize that life is better when you are closer to God, so you BEGIN AGAIN.

God shows us, through the parable of The Lost Son, 
that it's never too late for us to BEGIN AGAIN.

Let's face it!  The Lost Son had really messed up in the same way we often do.  He wanted it all and he didn't want to do the hard work to earn it, so he ended up having to face his weaknesses and start again.  Do you see how the father responds in the parable?
...his father saw him 
and was filled with compassion for him; 
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...
God will welcome us back with open arms.  He'll RUN to US even!  He'll give us more than we expected, and will never throw it back in our face by saying, "Oh, sure, NOW your Bible reading will REALLY take off...." or "Tammie, you think you'll stick with this prayer schedule FINALLY?"

What does this mean?  Why is it important?  Does it mean we never have to worry about disappointing God because he'll always be waiting with open arms, ready to forgive?

No, it means we would never WANT to disappoint him because we are so overwhelmed by this vast love he has for us.  BUT, if we do, we don't have to be afraid to turn and run back into his arms after we have messed up.

Can we share that message with someone today?  Is there anyone out there who needs this encouragement?
While our human nature wants to see the Lost Son "get what's coming to him" in response to his complete disregard for his father, the God of the Universe loves him so deeply that he gladly welcomes him home.  
This is how God turns this world upside down, buy showing us this unconditional love and the "fresh starts~no strings attached" that only he can give!  If you have been waiting for a "SIGN," this is it! Make the change.

If you're STILL NOT CONVINCED that it's time to BEGIN AGAIN...then maybe a song will get your blood flowing.  This song has been on nearly every time I'm in the car lately, and even though I've been singing it for YEARS-suddenly, it all makes sense.

It's time to come alive...


Pray:  Heavenly Father, thank you for SHOWING me through your parables in the Bible that you are truly a loving, merciful, gentle, and gracious God.  Help me to keep my passion for worship, my desire for prayer, and my discipline with the study of scripture...but, even me to encourage myself and others to ALWAYS remember that you are a Father who loves us no matter how far off the path we may stray.  TODAY is the DAY to BEGIN AGAIN.  Amen.

~ Tammie Hefty

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