Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Starting Over

I overheard a conversation between a one of my Sunday School teachers and a 2nd grader this past Sunday. The issue was that free play was over, and all of the toys needed to be put away. This particular student was in tears. She was devastated. She did not want to put her puzzle away. She had been working ALL morning on that puzzle. She skipped out on the fun group activity and a handful of other things to diligently work on her puzzle. When her teacher announced that free play was over, she was told to put the puzzle away. The rest of the day would be spent doing guided activities and lesson time; no more time for the puzzle. This was the point in which this well-behaved, sweet tempered little girl lost it. She started crying, sobbing, protesting this sudden change in activities. When her teacher caught sight of what seemed to be an unprovoked melt-down, she pulled this little one aside, and this is the conversation I heard:
teacher - "What's up? Why are you so upset??"
little one - "I'm not ready to put it away!!"
teacher - "Put your puzzle away? But it's time to move on, we have a lot to get done today sweetie."
little one - "But I don't want to start over... I CAN'T start over. It's too hard, I worked really, really, really hard on it. I don't want to start over. Please don't make me start over..."
To which her teacher simply replied "I know sweetie. I know..."
I'm not sure how the teacher resolved this problem because at this point my eyes were brimming with tears, and I had to walk away.
There was so much truth in this 7 year-old's declaration.
Some days it seems too hard.
We don't want to start over.
We simply think we CANNOT start over.
It's too confusing.
We've put too much work into our lives, into our past, our puzzle.
We beg and plead with God to let us continue living our lives.
But he always calls us to start over, doesn't he?
At some point, he tells us it's time to start over.
I've been spending a lot of time in the book of Romans lately.
Today I was reading in Romans 6, and all I could think about was the conversation I'd heard on Sunday between the 2nd grader and her teacher.
Isn't Romans 6 all about starting over? Isn't it telling us of the amazing, new opportunity we have right in front of us? Sin's power is broken! We are slaves to it NO MORE! We are given the chance to start over. To leave that old, broken, messed up life behind and start new.
Sure, we've probably put a lot of work and devotion into that old life. But it's a broken life. It has no promise. It holds no good thing for us.
Sure it's hard to walk away.
It's scary
It's confusing
It's painful
It gives us doubts
But the reward.... oh it's so beautiful.
If you know me, you know I have a pretty large tattoo on my arm. It took hours to complete. It's something I thought about for over a year before pursuing. To me, it depicts the freedom I found in Christ. The way he set me free from my past, from my old life. It basically captures the essence of Romans 6 in a picture through my eyes.
People look at it, and they see a million things... they try to guess what each thing symbolizes. When they ask me what it means, or what it represents, I simply say "God gave me a new life."

Isn't that what starting over is really about? A new chance. A new life.
And do you know what the greatest news of all is? It's never too late to start over. It's never to late to say YES to God and start over with this new, beautiful, wonderful, free life he promises us.
I know, for me it seemed impossible. My past seemed TOO ugly, TOO messed up, TOO hard to be forgiven. For a long time, I felt like I needed to live in the pain of my mistakes and the wreckage of my old life... until finally, one day, a friend of mine helped me realize that no matter how bad I felt, I could never feel bad enough. Christ paid the price for ALL of it. Everything. Even the stuff I thought was too ugly and hard and awful to be forgiven. It was all forgiven, and it was time for me to start over. Because, you see, I'd been rescued.
I'd been given a new life.
And it was from THAT life that I should be living.

I know it all seems a little all over the place... the Sunday School conversation, the tattoo, the puzzle, new life, forgiveness, starting over... but in my opinion, they are all related. Wouldn't you agree?


Steve Finnell said...

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Anna said...

Wow. That's all I have to say. Oh and also AMAZING!

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