There’s something deeply inspiring about a bright spring morning.
It’s not that spring has particularly lovely weather. Where I’m from, spring generally means constant rain and overcast skies. It’s wet, it’s cold, and if your allergies are anything like mine, it totally does a number on your sinuses.
In most ways, the weather in spring is like the weather in fall: rather gray, humdrum, and unremarkable. But nevertheless, there’s something about spring that sets it apart from fall.
What’s the difference between them, really? At the heart of it, the difference is simply in the direction that the season is heading. Fall reminds us that winter is coming; and although winter comes with its own beauty and blessings, it is physically dark and cold. But when spring bursts onto the scene, it reminds us that winter is not the end. Although the rain is not yet gone and the skies have not yet cleared, the sun rises earlier each morning, and summer is on the horizon. The spring air, soggy though it may be, whispers of something brighter on the way.
Spring is about new beginnings. We recently celebrated Holy Week and Easter Sunday, which is one of my favorite times of the year. The joy in the air at church on Easter Sunday is electric, and it stems from the beautiful reminder of hope that Easter is all about. Easter is set in the midst of a season of new birth, and I don’t believe that’s an accident. After all, it was Jesus who told Nicodemus that nobody could see the kingdom of God without being “born again.” The Christian message centers around rebirth; and as such, it is built on the belief in new beginnings.
There’s something about a beginning that refreshes the soul. It is not without reason that we often refer to a beginning as a “fresh start.” Beginnings are fresh; they carry an aroma of opportunity that energizes the spirit and stirs the heart to action.
Everybody desires a fresh start now and again. As the day-to-day toil of life begins to wear us down, something within us cries out for a do-over. We see wasted time slipping through our fingers, and we desperately want it back; not for its own sake, but in order that we may make better use of it. Life is short, and it pains us to see any piece of it wasted or broken.
In many ways, we live in a do-over culture. The particular upbringing of this most recent generation has often lent itself to a terrible disregard for consequences. 21st-century technology makes it possible to push the “Undo” button in so many areas of life. It seems that there is always an “Extra Life,” a mechanism by which we can quickly and easily erase our past mistakes and give it another go.
But the real world is not so forgiving. Try as we might, we cannot go back and try again where we have failed in the past. We cannot always repair the relationships that we’ve broken, or heal the hurt that we have caused. There is no regaining the time that we have wasted, or returning the unwanted gifts life has left on our doorsteps. While we cry foul, time marches on, and inevitably sweeps us all up in its inexorable flow.
Were this reality an inescapable one, there would be no real hope for the human race. If our past must forever hang like a dark cloud over our present, what light can there possibly be in our future? A world with no new beginnings would be empty, indeed.
But as Christians, that is not the world we live in. It is the deep and profound mystery of God’s forgiveness in Christ that we are able to receive a fresh beginning each and every morning. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The promise of new beginnings is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It is not an excuse to go on sinning, counting on forgiveness to wipe the slate clean. Rebirth and renewal in Christ are granted only to those who repent of their past unrighteousness. They are given to those who genuinely turn away from their sin, disgusted at what it does to them, and fall at the feet of God confessing their brokenness and begging to be made whole. Ask, and it will be given to you.
To be a Christian is to be a sinner, born again in the Spirit, but waging a war against the flesh. It is to be a former slave, set free in Christ, but continually tempted to return to the cold familiarity of your chains. Yet in Christ, you are a new creation; the old is gone, and each and every day it can be banished once more. The person you were yesterday has no power over who you are today, if today you are in Christ.
I see the power of beginnings clearly in my own life. Tomorrow is my final day of high school. On Monday, I will walk across the stage at graduation, and step into a brand-new chapter in the story of my life. I stand on the edge of my tomorrow, and soon I must step out in faith into whatever God has for me. Gazing out into the unknown, I find my emotions tangled together in an intricate dance between excitement and trepidation. Is this not the way of all new beginnings? A fresh start is full of potential, and it thrums with the opportunity for new and wonderful life; but it is not yet written. What I will make of this new beginning remains to be seen. My future may become a past that I look back on with fond memories, but it can also become a bitter pill whose foul taste lingers for far too long.
Yet like a clear spring day, this new beginning is a reminder that there is light on the horizon, and today I get to chase that light. Wherever you are in life, Jesus offers you a fresh start. Don’t allow your past mistakes to strangle your present and shatter your future. Winter is not the end; you simply need to chase after summer. You will undoubtedly stumble and fall, as do we all. But each time, God will bend to pick you up, dust you off, and set you on your feet once more. That is the beauty of beginnings, and praise God, Jesus is the author of every beginning.