By Marilyn LaStrape
Several years ago, a visiting preacher to a congregation asked the question, “Have you ever messed up and your ‘make up’ never quite measured up to your ‘mess up’?” At another Gospel meeting at the same congregation, the visiting preacher read the poem, “The Land of Beginning Again” by Louisa Tarkington.
The one preacher told about an opportunity that he let slip through his fingers when asked to preach the Gospel to another village of lost people on a missionary trip. He decided he didn’t really have the time to go to another village on that trip. When he returned the following year, he searched long and hard to find the man who had asked him to come and preach in that village, but he never found him!
The other visiting preacher read the poem, “The Land of Beginning Again,” and it begins by describing this wonderful place: “Where all of our mistakes, and all of our heartaches, and all of our poor selfish griefs, could be dropped at the door like a shabby old coat and never put on again.” The body of the poem addresses the greatest injustice, all the things we intended to do but forgot—little praises unspoken, and little promises broken. Perhaps the greatest line in the poem is, “It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind in the ‘land of beginning again.’” Ms. Tarkington ends her poem with, “And what had seemed hardest we know would have been best. There isn’t a thing that wouldn’t take wing when we faced it and laughed it away, and I think the laughter is most what we’re after in the ‘land of beginning again.’”
is only one place where such a beginning anew is
possible, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul writes in
The apostle Paul is the
striking example of one who was
given a new beginning in Jesus Christ in spite of his horrifying
meet Saul (whose name is later changed to Paul in
tells a Jewish crowd in
He writes in
He puts the exclamation point of this beginning anew in verses 16-17; “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
In God’s infinite wisdom, Paul’s former belief system and conduct is revealed to us in the most harsh and unfavorable language. Paul’s personal declarations of ignorance and arrogance are enough to make any penitent person realize the greatest need we have is redemption from our sins! If we knew of someone with Paul’s former reputation, what would be our attitude toward such a one? As a Christian, would he be welcomed into our assemblies? Would our being judgmental and self-righteous hinder any hopes of a relationship with a “modern day” Paul?
It is almost more than the heart can bear when we think of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ our Savior! May we all come to the realization that beginning anew is the ongoing relationship we have with God through Christ, and that keeps us in fellowship with one another.
have this assurance in
Is there a need for some of us to rededicate our lives to God anew? Is there a need for some of us to return to God and start anew? If God allows us to live to see the unprecedented year of our Lord 2009, let us resolve: