I n one of her poems Louisa Fletcher writes longingly, “I wish there were some wonderful place called the land of beginning again, where all our mistakes and all our heartaches and all of our poor selfish grief could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never put on again.”
Who of us has not experienced her feelings?
Once in the days long gone and dead, my very first year in public school, I sat at my desk trying desperately to make those ABC’s look the same as the copy at the top of the page. But they just wouldn’t come right. I erased, tried again, erased again. It only got worse!
Then my teacher walked by and looked down at my sheet—stained, blotted, a big hole almost rubbed through by erasures. Reaching down, she picked it up and placed a clean sheet in front of me. “Make a new start,” she said, “And do it as well as I know you can!”
You will understand when I say I have never forgotten Miss Patterson. When I think of her, my heart warms in gratitude. She did more for me than she would ever know. She enabled me to begin again, and there is nothing to compare with an opportunity to make a new start.
God does that for you and me. Amidst all of our failures and mistakes he is constantly saying, “You don’t have to stay the way you are. If you want to, really want to, you can make a new start.”
Paul, writing to the Romans, said it in these words: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed...”
You and I, by the grace of God, can be made different. We can be transformed and changed, given a new start.
It begins, I think, with a simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, come into my heart, ‘Melt me, Mold me, Fill me, Use me.’” When we pray that prayer God will have the chance he needs. He can come into our lives, change us, and give us a new start.
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.