Begin Again - Ted Winsley

I’ve read that at the end of each year divorce and suicide rates go up significantly. Why is that? I believe it’s because people start feeling hopeless. These statistics have brought me to raise the question, “Why does God give us time?”


I believe the reason God gives us time is for closure—closure to both our failures and our successes.


We need to bring closure to our failures so that we are not identified with what we have done or what has happened to us in the past. We tend to identify with our failures: “Not only did I fail, but I am a failure.” God doesn’t want us to be stuck in this mindset; instead He wants to close this door in our lives so we can move on. Many times our greatest successes and pleasures come after a time of great failure. Why is that? Because we are in a state of humility towards God. When we are humble before Him, we will believe in and rely on Him more.


We also need to bring closure to our successes because if we don’t, we tend to become arrogant and self-reliant. Just as our failures can soon after bring us great pleasure as we rely on God, so our successes can bring us major devastation if we proudly seek fulfillment and confidence in our own strength.


In John 8, we read about a woman who was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. The teachers of the law all wanted Jesus to condemn this woman but what did He do instead? He gave her time. Instead of identifying this woman by her sin, Jesus addressed the crowd:


“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”


One by one the crowd left, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. He then asked her who was left to find her guilty and she replied to Him, “No one.”


“‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” —John 8:11


Jesus didn’t just let this woman off the hook, He charged her with the command to leave her life of sin—He gave her time to begin again. If we don’t understand the gift of time, more time only means more pain. Some are going into tomorrow expecting more of the same, but God doesn’t want us to think that way.


One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day. This movie is about a life without restoration. Phil Connors wakes up every day in the same day. Likewise, if we don’t recognize that God is giving us a new day—time to begin again—then more time will only mean more of the same mistakes. God wants us to experience His mercies and grace anew each day.


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”Lamentations 3:22-23


I believe that this is a year for restoration. The word “restoration” in the Greek means, “to finish.” I found this interesting because often we think restoration means that we will get what we lost but instead restoration is the finishing of what God intended. So how do we begin the process of restoration? There are three keys to this:


Remember — Remember what you came from and what God has done for you. In the Old Testament we see that every time Abraham was delivered by God, he would set up an altar or memorial. He did this so that he—and many generations to follow—would remember the grace and redemption of God.


Forget — Your focus and identity cannot be fixed on what has happened, instead you should focus on what will happen. Forget the successes and failures you’ve once experienced and make way for what God is about to do.


Receive — Realize your identity is found in who you are in Christ! Take on the new mental and spiritual attitude that comes from your relationship with God, who has made you right with Him.


When you remember, forget, and receive, God will give you the time to begin again and experience restoration.


“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” —Ephesians 4:22-24


—Pastor Ted Winsley, chaplain of the Philadelphia Eagles


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