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Start...Stop...Start Again

Mark Twain always said the secret of "getting ahead" is to actually "get started". There are a lot of times in life where I want to be "ahead" of where I am, like saving for retirement - as long as I am started on the journey, I am much further ahead than when I first took consideration of the idea! For some of us it is the task of just getting started each and every day that gives us some of the greatest challenges. We have the hardest time even getting out of bed, let alone actually accomplishing anything! I am not a procrastinator, so when there is something that needs to be done, I usually think about it in terms of "that won't take too long" or "it best get done, or I will have worse things to deal with". Have you ever under-estimated the demands of the project at hand, or over-estimated the potential you had to actually complete it? If you are like me, you have started more than one thing which either could not be completed in the time frame you afforded yourself, or you became frustrated, over-extended and exhausted because the demands were just too great.

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.  He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psalm 111:7-10 ERV)

The idea of "starting" is frightening to some, because they don't actually have confidence they will be able to finish anything. They have tried so many times to just "start", but within a short period of time, they find what they started has become difficult or just doesn't hold their interest any longer. This might be okay if we are speaking of a hobby here, but living with Jesus isn't a hobby. It is a lifetime of "starting" each day with him, taking one step at a time, and starting again, if need be! There is no shame in "starting again". We might think there is some negative attached to having to start again, but in truth, isn't that what the backspace and delete keys are designed for on our keyboards? The anticipation we will make mistakes or that something will just "not be right" is inherent in all we do - we are human and humans frequently need to start again.

Our electricity went out the other night in a windstorm. That isn't a big deal as long as it comes on again in pretty short order. Even when it is off for more than a few seconds, all the electronic devices in the house have to be "reset". The satellite dish must reconnect with the receiver box, microwave clock demands resetting, and the ceiling fans must be set to "on" again. Why? The interruption in power "messed them up". They don't function as they should again until they are all "reset" to do what they were designed to do. Some of the devices have this nifty batter backup feature, resulting in them just "coming back on" as though nothing had interrupted their reception of power. Life isn't always that simple, but as long as we are "powered" by a source that keeps us even when we aren't feeling all that "powered", we will motor on!

There are those who won't start something if they even think there is a remote possibility they won't finish it, or finish it well. It doesn't take long to realize this philosophy can greatly impact what we "take on" in life. Nothing ventured is nothing gained - I don't Benjamin Franklin really is credited as the original source of this quote, he is frequently given credit for this "version" of it. It comes from a much earlier quote by Chaucer who actually used the words of a French proverb to indicate: He who never undertook anything, never achieved anything. Much of what we accomplish in life isn't because we mastered it before we started it - we somehow mastered it along the way! It takes "getting started" to get us to move toward mastery - not the other way around. I think we get this mixed up in our heads and our hearts when it comes to things like prayer, study of the Word of God, and even relationships. We don't get started because we don't feel we know all that needs to be done, or that we will do the thing well. May I just say - venture out a little bit. If you fall, so what? Get back up - step out again - fall again. It is part of mastering whatever it is that is before you! Just sayin!

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