Starting Over This Year
One of the most encouraging things about a new year is the word “new.”
It means “unfamiliar . . . made or become fresh . . . different from one of the same category that has existed previously,” says Webster. Simply put, it’s a place to begin anew.
Starting over requires knowing where you are. Honestly admitting your present condition. Facing the music.
Remember Jonah? Somewhere down the line he got his inner directions cross-wired. He wound up, of all places, on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea bound for a place named Tarshish. That was due west. But God had told him to preach to Nineveh. That was due east. Jonah never got to Tarshish, as you remember. Through a traumatic chain of events Jonah was forced to get his head together in the digestive tract of a gigantic fish.
What a place to start over! Slopping around in the seaweed and juices inside that sea monster, Jonah took a long, honest look at his short, dishonest ministry. For the first time in a coon’s age he actually prayed (Jonah 2). He literally yelled for mercy. He promised the Lord he’d keep his vow and get back on target. Only one creature on earth felt sicker than Jonah. The fish, in whose belly Jonah bellowed. Up came the prophet who hit the road running—this time toward Nineveh.
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, so there are no rebels in fish stomachs. Perhaps you can identify rather easily with Jonah. This past year hasn’t been your all-time-spiritual-high-plateau year, right? You’ve dodged and ducked, squirmed and squeaked your way through one Tarshish trip after another. But no more. You’re tired. “Exhausted” is a better word. “Swallowed up” may be best. You feel oppressed, guilty, overused, and undernourished. You’re not that old . . . but you’ve run a long way. Few moons but many miles. The enemy of your soul is feeding you the lie, “You’re through. Finished. Useless. You’ve been replaced. Forgotten.”
That is not true! If God can take a disobedient prophet, turn him around, and set him on fire spiritually, He can do the same with you. The Lord is a specialist in making something beautiful and good out of something broken and confused.
If you’re standing alone inside a fish, you need to come to terms with those things that need attention. Before you find your way out, you must determine where you are—and how you got there. Once that’s accomplished, you’re ready to start over.
Where are you? Start there. Openly and freely declare your need. Don’t hide a thing. Show God all your wounds. He’s ready to heal every one . . . if you’re ready to run to Nineveh, also known as the New Year.