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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Not ending, but beginning

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." (T. S. Eliot)

What ends have become your new beginnings? One of the most fearful places to be is at the "end" - for the "end" requires one to either choose a new beginning, or to settle for a place of stagnancy. Either way, there is something to be "feared" as one approaches the "end" of any matter. As my BFF and I were sitting at lunch the other day, we began to contemplate just how near retirement was for each of us. Not too awfully long ago, I was just "starting out" in my career as a nurse, and in about the blink of an eye, here I was contemplating what the next six years might bring before "retirement" age was reached. It is kind of scary to think about occupying my time with new ventures, while at the same time it is rather exciting. In the end, I will choose to "end" one thing, but plan to "start" something new - for idle hands and minds are never a good thing!

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)

We may not always anticipate the "endings" we are brought to in life, but we can stand assured none of these "endings" are meant to bring us to a place of "inactivity" - for God never wants "stagnancy" in our walk with him. As we contemplate some of the "endings" we have experienced thus far this year, what might be the "new beginnings" God is working out for us? One thing is for certain - God is the God of "new beginnings". Each year, my trees drop their leaves, looking rather barren and like all the life has drained from them. Each year, the warmth of the spring sun begins to challenge those same "barren branches" to bring forth new growth. In just a matter of a few short weeks, what was seemingly barren is chocked full of abundant growth! The end wasn't the end - it was a new beginning.

As my grandsons were growing up, I became familiar with a term used in education today - something called "chapter books". I really hadn't heard that term (or paid attention to it) until they were advancing in their reading skills. When they finished these "one chapter" books, there was a new skill they needed to add - to read "chapter books". Their advancement through the grades has presented them with longer "chapter books". In life as we know it, we might start out with the simple "one chapter" issues or decisions. As we learn to master these with a sense of ease and comfort, we find ourselves being challenged to move beyond them, though. Why? There is new discovery awaiting us in the "bigger" chapter books of life. At times, I am just like you - I don't want a "bigger" challenge in life. I want to just "glide" for a while. After all, what is wrong with a little "break from life" for just a while? Nothing and everything at the same time.

There is nothing wrong with finding rest for a while in God's grace and presence. There is everything wrong with becoming so complacent that we no longer move. In the Song of Solomon, you will observe the "lover" (us) waking from a short slumber, only to find her "lover" (Jesus) isn't where she is at any longer. She calls and calls for him - asking throughout the city if anyone has seen him. What has happened here? Her "lover" hasn't "moved on" in terms of his love for her - but his absence has caused her love and need to be close to him to become very apparent to her! It is quite possible the end of one "chapter" in our lives is the very challenge we need in order to realize just how intense our love for Christ is - for in any ending, there is a new beginning - even as it applies to our intensity of devotion to our Lord and King, Jesus Christ! Just sayin!