New Beginnings

Yesterday I was driving down a road near where I live and coming down the street heading toward me was a big yellow school bus.  It’s lights had begun to flash as it slowed to a stop.  I stopped too as the “Stop” sign was extended.  I noticed it pulled up right in front of a house where a mother, father and what looked to me to be a five-year-old son stood.  He had a brand new backpack on his back.  His shoes and his clothes looked new.   As he ran toward the bus and began walking up the steps, his mother snapped a quick picture.  The bus lights stopped flashing, the bus began to pull away and the mother and dad stood there in each other’s arms.  I think I saw a tear running down her cheek!

New beginnings are often hard.  They usually mean the end of something we have become comfortable with.  It also means change in the future.  We can plan all we want to, but usually a new situation will mean something we did not expect.  I imagine that mom and dad wondered how their son would do in school.  Would he excel or would he struggle?  Would the match wit the teacher be good or would it be a challenge.  Maybe their son would be the most popular kid in the class or maybe he would be the victim of a bully.   New beginnings can be unsettling.

Even so, they almost always are something we want.  Those parents would be heartbroken if their son never reached the developmental level, emotionally, intellectually or physically where he could not begin school.  This new beginning is a normal and natural part of life.  Sometimes they can even be frightening.

Scripture tells us that we serve a God who leads us to new beginnings.  The spiritual life is sometimes compared to a journey.  God led the children of Israel out of the nation of Egypt to something new.  Truth-be-told it was not an easy journey.  They got stuck in the wilderness.  Jesus calls us to develop into the image God created us to be.  Often that journey is not easy as we pry loose the fingers sin has gripped our souls with.  But the journey is worthwhile.

The church I am presently serving has just voted to call their new pastor.  It is a happy time—an exciting time.  This is what we have been working toward together.  But also there are questions people are asking about whether they will have the same posisitions, opportunities for service and theological alignment with the place this church is going.  That is unnerving at the same time it is exciting.  The great promise God gives those who follow Him is that He will be with us in the journey.  If we are attentive, we can also see that He will guide us in that journey just as He led the children of Israel in the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.

The other assurance we have is that God will use even our missteps to help teach and mold us.  I believe that God’s ‘punishments’ are actually tools for teaching in addition to leading us away from certain behaviors.   Knowing God is at work in you and me can fill us with expectation for the future.  Ours is a God who leads us into that new future and invites us to trust him in the journey.  As I approach a season of newness in my own life, I am seeking to remind myself of God’s goodness, His faithfulness and His unwavering commitment to helping me be molded into the image of His Son.  And when I really stop and think about it, that is what I want more than anything, don’t you?


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