Starting Over. Again.
It can wear a person down, from the inside out. The frustration of failure, facing the same giants for the umpteenth time, from flat on your proverbial back. The weight you lost has come back. The bank account is overdrawn, again. The week has ended with a poor job review, the weekend has finished with a marital blow up and you’re finally at your wit’s end. You’re not willing to give up or give in, but starting over, again, can be so depressing.
Listen closely. The things I will share are not a fool proof, step by step approach to sure success. If that’s what you’re looking for, stop reading now, and go find it somewhere else. Just know that if that’s what anyone promises, they are either a fool, or they are dishonest. There is no such thing as a guarantee or a ma
gical potion to fix everything once and for all. This life is a journey. It’s a journey that’s filled with challenges, obstacles and stresses. But you can do this. Seriously, you can. When you fail, you can start over, again… and again, and again if you have to.
Will it be hard? Yes. The person that will make it most difficult to start again is most likely the one who stares at you in the mirror. Can I offer a small piece of advice? Step off, fool. You heard me. Stop being so hard on yourself. You aren’t the only person in the world to fail or fall short. You aren’t the first person to need to start over from scratch, and you won’t be the last. The last thing you need now is a “self-inflicted beat down” for the circumstance you find yourself in. So lighten up on yourself a little. This takes a mixture of grace and courage, but you can do this. You’ve got this.
There is something to be said for not letting yourself off too easy. There may be legitimate fault to be laid at your feet for your current situation. Don’t make excuses or point the finger too quickly at others if there are things you genuinely need to change. Seriously, dude (or dudette), if you keep doing the same stupid stuff and it keeps causing your world to crash down around you, then stop doing stupid stuff. Do you regularly have to search for new employment because you blame others for your poor work? Then start taking responsibility for what’s yours at the office, and bust your butt to make it better. Has your spouse blown a cog, complaining that you NEVER carry your share of the load around the house? Then sit down with your spouse, and work out a fair and purposeful way for you to share the duties that make your house a home… and then follow through faithfully on your part, no excuses allowed!
Listen, excuses are like backsides… everyone has one. Sometimes they stink, sometimes they don’t, but no one likes them rubbed in their face. Analogy understood? Stop making excuses, and yet you can’t let yourself off without any culpability for being in the place where you need to start over again. It’s not worth beating yourself up over, but you insure that you’ll be right back in this place if you don’t take responsibility and make the necessary changes to get you out of this bad place.
So what’s your next step? Maybe it’s time to clean your “Life House”. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.
We want coverage for the long haul. It’s inside of each of us. We want to know that we have enough cash, gas, health or Brownie points to keep us in good graces for a long time. We don’t want to have to worry about it. Some grace works that way. Saving grace took hold of us the moment we became a child of God. From that point forward we know we’re bound for eternity with God. That’s peaceful, it’s exciting, and yes, it’s amazing.
But what about grace to deal with the ugly periods in our lives? Sometimes those times come as brief moments in our day. Others seem to stretch across days, or months… or years. We need grace. We need courage, strength and hope that we don’t have, and we need God to give it to us now. We’d love it if we could have a HUGE draw on our “Grace Account” so we wouldn’t have to make another trip so quickly to get more. But that’s not how it works.
Grace is more than a gift to get us through. It’s a gift to get us close to the Giver of the gift. He loves it when we crawl up on His lap, and just ask for what we need. It’s not our dependence, our loyalty or our tasks that He wants in exchange for grace. He simply wants our presence. Maybe that explains why the most successful “grace prayers” I pray are simply to get me the short distance from this moment to the next. Could God in an instance give me enough grace to permanently deal with that bothersome boss or that annoying neighbor? Yes. But He seems to choose more often than not to provide just the perfect amount I need for that moment.
Paul was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Of what, we don’t know. But he kept praying, and kept asking for God to take away the problem. Once and for all, Lord, just be done with it. But God’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9 God simply said, “I know you, and I know the issue… and I see the long picture. For now, let me give you the grace for the moment, so that in the long run you’ll have grace for the victory.”
We don’t like that. Well, I don’t. But God knows how much grace I need, and He gives it when I ask. Maybe not the way I want, or to cover as long as I hope. But two things are sure:
1) God’s grace is always enough and 2) He loves it when I come back and ask for more. Grace is the big win that carries our eternity; but it’s also the little victory that carries us from this moment to the next.
Grace from here to there. It’s more than enough.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, and a soul generated by love.” This is a lesser known quote by Dr. King, and though not as notable as “I have a dream”, it is a powerful reminder to us about the man and his mission. Martin Luther King was an ordinary person with an extraordinary passion. A passion to see the love of God, the compassion of good men and the hope of a brighter tomorrow made real in his world, and the world that his children would inherit.
Would the world be a better place if there were more “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s”? Most would agree it would, but there’s a more important question you must face. “Would the world be a better place if there were more of YOU and people like you?” Are you serving others? Are you making the world you touch a better place because of your touch? Now more than ever this world… YOUR world… needs men and women who will shape history for the better. How?
- Character and Conviction must always trump Convenience and Complacency. Being a world changer is not a job for the lukewarm or the weak. Dr. King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Even when it’s hard? Yes. Even when it’s painful or costly? Absolutely. Even when it runs counter to our culture and conflicts with our self-interests? Especially then. Character is not simply a badge to be worn or a name tag on our suit. It comes from our core, our innermost values. When confronted with challenges to what is just and right, our convictions stand fast against the whims of the culture.
- Bravery is defined by our lives and not our lips. Courage doesn’t exist until it faces adversity. Up to that point, courage is simply a word on a page. It is a picture of the lion, not the lion itself. Only when the verbs become actions and the speeches become activity does the lion come alive! This world is not a safe place. Enemies work to undermine our progress, and evil men cause harm for no other reason than to enjoy the pain they bring to others. Standing against those activities will come with a price. No person has or can ever expect to face down tyranny and abuse or conflict and corruption without being fiercely engaged by those enraged at the audacity of a good person to say “enough”. Bravery is an armor whose breastplate is a target and whose sword is an invitation to his enemies. Bravery will be defined by whether we watch the war or instead, run to the battle.
- Love infuses every facet of our cause and becomes the driving force that shapes our destiny. Jesus said it best when He said, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45) Dr. King was well aware of this truth too – during a speech near Christmas in 1957, Dr. King said, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Love for those we lead, love for those we influence, for those we embrace – this warms our heart and stokes our passions. But we must show love to those who despise us, lead with love those who would rebel against us and be love to those who know no love at all.
MLK, Jr. left us with an amazing legacy, one that began in the heart of his namesake. No, not his father, but 400 years and a continent apart, in the life of the great theologian Martin Luther. Luther said, “I cannot choose but adhere to the word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.” Will you take a stand? Will you be so committed to make a difference in your world that you too will say, “I cannot do otherwise, so help me God!”
GO BE GREAT! Serve someone with conviction, with bravery, with love! You will be great!
I love this remake of the great anthem, “We Are The World”… love that it’s a bunch of young adults singing it with such passion!
Watch the video, then take a moment to answer the question below the video!
If you could help the world have more of only one
characteristic of greatness, what would it be, and why?