Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fresh starts begin today

There are times we all feel like quitting.  We also have heard the words of Vince Lombardi, "Winners don't quit and quitters don't win."  Another quote goes something along the line, "Quitters are good losers."  So, we keep plugging along, hoping not to be labeled as a quitter.  I think God may look at us, realize our desire to quit, and then somehow begin to meet this despondency with his provision.  

14 God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. 
(Psalm 145:14)

Robert Ingersoll once said, "Happiness is not a reward - its a consequence.  Suffering is not a punishment - its a result."  There are indeed times when we think we will never be "happy" - but look at the quote again.  It is a "consequence" - an outcome of something we do, or perhaps don't do in life.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to make a "fresh start" with what we have been given.  We take the pieces we have left, pick them (and ourselves) back up, and move forward in obedience.  Thank goodness for the "fresh starts" we get in life!  If it were not for these, where would we each be?  

Look at our passage again - God GIVES a hand to those down on their luck.  It is a extension of his grace which "turns the tide" for us.  No amount of self-effort or self-determination is the answer to really getting the "fresh start" - it is a matter of God GIVING us the fresh-start.  Whenever we think of someone "down on their luck", we think of an individual enduring a whole lot of suffering because a whole lot of bad things are happening to the individual.  Look at what Ingersoll said - Suffering is not a punishment!  So, what is the intended result of suffering?  Often, it is to make us open to receiving!

God uses the results of our suffering to open us afresh to his GIVING touch.  He extends to us in our times of highest accomplishment, our moments of gleeful celebration, etc. - but, the fact remains, we are probably the MOST open to his "giving" when we are experiencing our greatest sense of need - in our suffering!  We need to embrace need as an opportunity for a fresh start - for our hearts, minds, and wills to be open to the fresh touch of God.

Quitters don't win and winners don't quit.  A valuable idiom indeed, yet flawed!  Here's the flaw - winning often begins when we finally quit!  Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in the efforts of trying to NOT quit, missing the very point God wants us to see - WE need to lay it down!  Don't keep holding on - in letting go, we EMPTY our hands so they can be refilled with what God intends for them to be filled with!  It is only empty hands which can be filled!

A fresh start begins with an end.  When we come to an "end", God stands ready to GIVE us a "start".  Vince Lombardi also said, "The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."  Sometimes the best we can do with what we have is to lay it down!  When we finally yield it to God's touch, we find the very thing we possess may be the very thing which "possessed" us - consuming us in ways God never intended.  

Want a fresh start?  It begins today in us emptying ourselves so we might be open to receive exactly what God intends to GIVE us in order to launch us into the "newness" of a fresh beginning.  

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