Summary: How do you start over in a dead-end life?
In the old movie, City Slickers, there is a scene in which three friends are together, and one of them is telling the others about how he has messed up his entire life. He’s lost his wife. He’s lost his child. He’s lost his job. He’s lost his self respect. He’s lost everything. He is basically telling his friends, “It’s all over. I’ve lost everything.”
To this the character played by Billy Crystal says, “No, that’s not true. You have everything to live for. It’s a fresh start. It’s a ‘do-over’.” Then Crystal reminds his friend that when they were children, playing baseball in the old neighborhood, occasionally one of them would hit the ball toward an old tree and it would get caught up in the tree and interfere with the play. All the kids would yell ‘Do over’ and they would do the play all over again.
“Your life is a do-over,” Crystal tells his friend.
How many of us here today would love to have a “do-over” in our life?
How many of you here this morning would like to have a fresh start in your life?
Many of us here this morning have made many mistakes in our lives.
We have experienced many setbacks and failures throughout our lives. Sometimes we allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the full Christian life that God has given us to enjoy.
We have a dead-end job, and we feel stuck thinking, “I went into the wrong career and now there is nothing I can do about it.”
We get married, only to find the marriage is a failure. It may end in divorce, or it may survive as a tragic, unending chain of arguments and fights.
We say something to a loved one or friend, and then we are ostracized from them for the rest of our lives.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The good news is, God says, “I want you to have a fresh start in life, I want you to have a new beginning, I want to do something new in your life.”
That is a major element of what our Christian faith is all about – the opportunity to start fresh. To do something new with our life. To have a ‘do-over.’
This is a constant theme in the Scriptures.
St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans (Rom 6:4) that through baptism, our old life is buried, in order that we “we may live a new life.”
St. Paul also wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, (II Cor 5:17), “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
We just finished our 40 Days of Purpose program. What a great program we had here! And many of you used this as a time to have a fresh new start for your spiritual life. But don’t worry! Even if you let the 40 Days of Purpose go past you without letting it impact your life, you always have the opportunity to begin anew!
In our Old Testament lesson, Isaiah (43:18) says that the Lord tells us, “Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. Instead, look at the new things I’m going to do.”
We need to understand that God is far more interested in our future than He is in our past. Some people think that God is stuck on their past. That all He wants to do is remind them of the things that they have done wrong. God is more interested in your future than He is with your past. That’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. He says, “Forget about your past. Forget about the former things. Don’t think about it. Look at the new thing I’m going to do.”
Israel was being punished for their sins and rebellion against God. God wanted to give hope and encouragement to His people. He wanted them to know that even though they were being punished they were not being forsaken. God wanted His people to understand that the punishment that they were experiencing would not be the end of them. The fact is that God want to give them a fresh start in life, a new Beginning in life.
In the Old Testament lesson, Israel no doubt was discouraged because they thought this was the end of them. They had gone to far, they had sinned and rebelled against God to he point that He would no longer be their God. Maybe they thought God would not deliver them again, it’s over. That is when they begin to remember the former things or past deliverances. Israel could remember past victories. They could remember when they were trapped by the Red Sea and had nowhere to go, how God made a way for them. They could remember that when the enemy was about to overtake them how He provided protection for them. They could remember the former things, but they couldn’t see their future. That is why God said; “I am going to do something new.