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Fresh Starts! (10.05.05--Beginning Again!--Numbers 20:1)

A number of years ago my wife had an opportunity to spend several days camping at a church camp with several of her friends. They kept the little ones and the family pets with them. The only thing lacking for the time was husbands. It was mid-summer and the weather was scorching. Unfortunately there was one thing that needed to be done before leaving our wives in camp--making firewood for the week.

My friend Jon and I had brought along our chain saws in anticipation of wrestling down dead oaks, blighted by wilt, that dotted the campground. After several hours of felling, cutting and splitting, the heat had finally gotten to both of us. We were exhausted and weren’t looking forward to restacking the wood in campsite. Our wives suggested we cool our heels in a nearby lake. It seemed like a drastic move in the midst of all the work that still needed to be done. But, we peeled and dove in. It wasn’t long before the refreshing waters gave us back the will to finish the job. We needed a fresh start.

As Christians we often find ourselves in need of a fresh start when life becomes tedious, even burdensome. Carving out that start might call for some creative thinking, even what might seem drastic for the moment. We need to be able to be willing to see opportunities that might remain otherwise hidden.

A sculptor had ruined a huge piece of beautiful Carrara marble. It was left in the courtyard of the cathedral in Florence, Italy, for almost a hundred years. Artisans thought it was beyond repair. But in 1505, a young sculptor by the name of Michelangelo was asked if he thought anything could be done with “The Giant.” He measured the block and carefully noted the imperfections caused by the bungling workman of an earlier day. To his mind came the image of the young shepherd boy David. He carefully made a sketch of that biblical character as he envisioned him. For 3 years he worked steadily, his chisel skillfully shaping the marble. Finally, when one of his students was allowed to view the towering figure, 18 feet high and weighing 9 tons, he exclaimed, “Master, it lacks only one thing, and that is speech!” (Unknown.)

Beginning again often is a product having the vision to see beyond the ordinary and into the extraordinary. Stepping back from our lives every now and then and reexamining what we have made of them is probably a very good idea. The Bible is full of stories of people and nations who, with a perspective on what was, were able to envision what could be. Sometimes we just need to be conditioned by the hardship to be able to be able to appreciate a fresh start.

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