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THE QUIET CORNER
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Fresh Starts ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: October 18th, 2016   Category: Conflict, Hope, Inspirational, Truth, Understanding

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Sometimes things simply go our way and sometimes they don’t. We usually feel good when the wind is at our backs and then we start wondering just what we’re doing wrong when we face our harshest headwinds. Of course there are those among us who blame every headwind they encounter on something or someone else entirely. That might be a contributing factor here and there, but it’s rarely (if ever) the primary factor in our plight. We make choices every day and sometimes we just choose to go in the wrong direction, into the metaphoric winds or against the fiercest tides of prudence. Often our choices aren’t even thought out, they’re simply spontaneous reactions to some unexpected circumstances or invitations which detour or spin us around. We always believe that we have good reasons for doing these things but once those headwinds start pushing us backwards too fast or far, we kind of forget about our reasoning and just start flinging around the blame again. Blame is another of our many two way streets, but this is one where collisions are commonplace. There are always two or more parties to blame, which is how demolition derbies begin. Blaming somebody or something else for our woes is incredibly shortsighted, if we are not looking questioningly at ourselves at that very same moment. Things don’t happen to us unless we put ourselves into positions where they can happen to us. This societal trend of shedding responsibility is accelerating as we seek to see and project ourselves in the most favorable of lights. We’ve become less inclined to want to accept responsibility for what we do and for what we neglect to do. When faced with these repeating circumstances, we often get to the point of simply giving up, walking away or just wishing we could somehow start all over again. Good luck with that. Giving up doesn’t really accomplish anything except losing. Starting over again presumes that we will make all of the necessary changes to avoid repeating our mistakes from the first time around and that the damage we did magically disappears. That’s nearly impossible alone. The fortunate among us had some guidance while growing up, which essentially advised us that we couldn’t simply run away from our problems. All that we accomplish with that approach is starting new problems. More often than not we are our problems and wherever we go, we carry our issues with us. God is pretty direct on this subject.

““The upshot is this, Israel: I’ll judge each of you according to the way you live. So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won’t drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! Why would you choose to die, Israel? I take no pleasure in anyone’s death. Decree of GOD, the Master. “Make a clean break! Live!”” (Ezekiel 18:30-32 MSG). These biblical instructions are for each and all of us. It doesn’t matter which way we are traveling on that two-way street, it’s just being on that street that matters. There is no request from God for excuses or blame. God knows better than that about us. He knows exactly why we are who we are, how we got there and He is not in the business of accepting excuses. The most interesting words for me in this passage are within the instructions. “Get a new heart! Get a new spirit!” Most people have no idea how to go about doing that. There is such a thing as a fresh start, but there is really no such thing as starting all over again. The past is already history in the book of life. A fresh start however will render that past as no longer relevant, or more accurately, already forgiven. Hopefully most of us will understand that “getting a new heart” in this application does not involve a transplant in the usual or accepted medical fashion. Getting a new heart to God means being cleansed of or forgiven for all of our past trespasses and approaching life differently going forward. There is only one way to perfect that and there is only one person who can help us do it. He just happens to be the very same person who can help us get a new spirit. This is of course Jesus Christ with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. If you want to try and solve these problems without Jesus, He will let you (try to) do that. The chances are excellent that you will NOT succeed and long term you will still be looking for the answer that was offered to you even before the headwinds first started blowing you backwards. The only way this is ever going to come about is if we begin this process by accepting responsibility for all of the things that we have done wrong and all of the things that we are continuing to do wrong every day. We should not be looking at other people and blaming them for our problems. We should be looking in the mirror. Once we acknowledge our bad choices, habits and practices, Jesus can begin His work with us. A new heart and a new spirit is the most complete fresh start anyone possibly can hope for. It’s certainly the only fresh start recommended by the One who created us. It’s more than a fresh start too, it’s choosing life in the face of our harshest headwind, death.

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