Look at your datebook. Something has changed. The next month has a new year. It will take you a while to catch up as you write a cheque or record the date, but a new year is beginning and is already ahead of you!
You have probably made a couple of safe resolutions or purchased a new wall calendar for the kitchen. You might even have looked at the blank days to come and wondered how they will be filled in. So much is possible. So much is longed for. The eve of a new year shouts to us, “This is a new beginning!” But new beginnings do not only come with the flip of a calendar page. Fresh starts knock on our doors daily. Graduations, the first day or retirement, a moving truck in the driveway or carrying your first born out of the hospital doors. Life is filled with new beginnings and they happen all year long.
Every new start arrives as a mixed blessing. With one hand we welcome them but pull back with the other. A clean page is welcomed because there are things on the previous page we might like to forget. No one is immune to the regrets, disappointments, wounds, or failures of life. A different job, community, or relationship offers opportunity to adjust or correct. We hope to learn and move on. Since we want tomorrow to be better than today, we crave new beginnings as a means of growth. And yet, beginnings frighten us as well. The mystery of tomorrow and the uncertainty of circumstance combine to elevate our anxiety. Not knowing. Not seeing. We hesitate to embrace the very thing we long for, an opportunity to begin again. How do we resolve our regrets of yesterday and our fears of tomorrow?
There is good news. God is the Lord of new beginnings. The One who set the earth to spin from night to day offers a gift of time and space to each of us. There is always a place to begin again—maybe here. There is always time for a fresh start—maybe now.
Read God’s Storybook. It’s crammed with accounts of people who got more than a second chance. Moses’ career in Pharaoh’s court came to an abrupt end as he ran into the wilderness. He may have assumed that after four decades of being a shepherd, his resume was full. But one morning he awoke as the leader of a people looking for a home, looking for their God. Moses had his share of new beginnings. So did Ruth. She went from widowhood and wanderings to a husband and home. She became great grandmother to King David. How about the Apostle Paul? On the road to Damascus he had such a dramatic reboot of his life that his name was changed from Saul to Paul. And Peter received so many restarts from Jesus he probably feared his quota was filled. But on a beach at breakfast Jesus commissioned him, “Feed My sheep.” God is the Lord of new beginnings. Jeremiah points to the sunrise and reminds us that God’s love and compassion are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).
I mentioned that God offers something new in the time and space given to us all yet it’s a mistake to attribute the commencements of our lives to location and calendar. Time and space are simply the vehicles—grace invites us to begin anew. Grace covers the regrets of yesterday. Grace opens opportunities to match our heart’s desire.
New beginnings are not made of wedding vows, newborn cries, or mortgages paid in full. It is grace that infuses each of these occasions. It is grace that saturates every moment and everything in our living. Without grace, every return to the starting line ends up with exhausted runners going in circles until collapse. Beginnings come by grace. They come repeatedly. This moment is an invitation. And now this one. And then the next. In every instant and instance, grace is the love of God that whispers, “Let’s start again.”