Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Ultimate Fresh Start

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:1-7, NIV)
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How many of our games as children involved a “do over”? Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted or intended, so we called “do over” and reset things to try again. Even as an adult, my weekly golf game was sprinkled rather liberally with Mulligans. In so many ways, each of us seeks out and, often achieves, a fresh start to some aspect of our lives. If you really need evidence of this, check out somebody’s resume or the traffic at a new car lot.
Our Christian faith is, for the most part, based on the principle of a “do over”. We accept Christ’s finished work based on the grace God give us and we are reborn. Jesus called this out specifically to Nicodemus in John 3, causing the Pharisee more than a little confusion. I sense that somehow Nicodemus knew he needed a “do over” but the way Jesus portrayed it was hard for him to comprehend. But the fresh start was definitely at the core.
And how many more examples do we find in Scriptures? The woman taken in adultery ends her encounter with Jesus hearing the phrase “Go and sin no more.” Jesus tells the rich young ruler to start again by giving everything away. Even in the Old Testament, God speaks to Abraham about making a fresh start in a new land and then changes his name.
If we look at this all the way John Eldridge portrays it in Epic (yes, I know I went there just a couple entries ago), perhaps our hearts are turned to that final act … the one yet to come. I’ve lost loved ones in this life, as I’m sure many of you have. They’ve gone on to a great renewal in Heaven, but the final act of renewal portrayed in today’s passage is quite different. It is God’s final act of making everything new again. A new earth, a new Heaven, and a new sense of just how awesome He is (and has always been).
C.S. Lewis may have painted the best picture of this in his last Chronicle of Narnia. When Aslan explains to the children that the wreck in the train station was real, that they have died from the perspective of the “shadow lands”, he exhorts them to follow him with the call “Farther up and further in!” This is the final call of Jesus as He makes the final renewal and fresh start for all eternity. It is the very essence of the passage in Revelation where everything is created again new and fresh. It is the final “do over”.
So today, as we travel the Crooked Path, may we look for the renewal from God as He gives us the opportunity to mirror His final fresh start. Our lives are far from easy most of the time, and it can be difficult to overcome our perspective and adjust our attitude. But focusing on Him and remembering the change He has brought, the changes He is bringing, and the changes He has yet to make, perhaps our steps can be a little lighter and our songs a little brighter. As the note I fastened to the wall of my office says:
Remember Who …
Consider Why …
Start Fresh Today!
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  1. When did you last feel like you had a fresh start? What were you starting over from?
  2. Do you have a favorite “do over” from a Scripture passage? What one and what makes you especially fond of it?
  3. Do you find yourself longing for the final fresh start? In doing so, are you overlooking the daily opportunity God provides you for renewal? What is keeping you from starting fresh today?
NIV - Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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