Starting Fresh

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – Phil 3:14

Have you ever needed a fresh start? Have you ever felt like you messed up things so bad that they are beyond repair? Have you felt like that about your own life?

I certainly have. Just like everyone else, my life has been full of disappointments and failures. I’ve probably had more than my fair share of times when I have wanted to give up on life, and become a hermit or something. I know the emotional pains that I have been through because of little things. And if the pain is any worse on the big things than on the little things then I know it must be unbearable.

I know what I’m about to say sounds silly, but it’s absolutely the truth:

Probably the most painful thing that ever happened to me in life was an experience I had as a soccer referee. Yeah, I know, sounds lame, but it’s true. You might be thinking, ‘this guys has gone through nothing!’ But that’s not the case. I’ve had other experiences in life that have definitely been more drastic. My parents were divorced, break-ups, extreme money problems, etc., but for some reason this referee thing tormented my mind more than any other experience I have had (with one close runner-up).

I was about 15 years old and had gone through training to become a soccer referee. I was pretty young for a ref, so really I was to stick to sideline ref-ing. However, during one particular series of games, the head ref asked me if I would like to be the head ref for the next game. Who would’ve thought that saying yes to that innocent idea would cost me so much pain!

To make a long story short, I was a terrible, terrible ref. I missed calls, called goals that weren’t goals, blew the whistle when I wasn’t supposed to, etc, etc. It was bad. And to assure me of how bad of a ref I was were the lovely parents of all these 10 year olds on the side of the field. “What? What kind of call was that? You are such an idiot! The ref is freaking blind!”

The other ref had told me that if I was having a tough time to just blow the whistle and pretend that I had something in my eye and he would take over. He signaled to me to let him switch with me, but my pride wouldn’t let me. After the game, both the parents and the sweet 10 year olds gasped as loud as they could about how I was the worst referee they had ever seen. I walked off the field that day not to return. Ref-ing wasn’t for me.

No one had ever told me how terrible I was like that before. Sure, I had been made fun of as a kid, but not publicly ridiculed by 10 year olds. Those words from those people pierced my heart that day. I would not forget them for years and years and years to come.

Many nights I would sit in my bed, filled with so much pain that my body would hurt. I had to make a decision during those times. I had to decide to forget the past, and press on.

What’s your story? What keeps you up at night reeling in emotional pain? Whatever it is, you need to make a decision, in God’s strength, to put it behind you, forget it, and move forward.

The man who wrote the scripture that we have quoted earlier was a guy by the name of Paul. We know him as Paul, but he wasn’t always Paul. He once went by the name Saul. This man had a terrible past.

Saul despised Christians. He found them so repulsive that he made it his personal ambition to spearhead a radical persecution against them. He had them arrested and even killed. The most famous case being that of Stephen, were Saul, as a young man, guarded the coats of those that stoned him.

[They] dragged [Stephen] out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. – Acts 7:58

Saul later, of course, becomes a christian himself. Can you imagine the inner turmoil he had over this? Some of those who would be in church with him were not because of him! Surely some of the family of those he jailed and killed were at the churches he attended. He would see the face of a woman who, because of him, was robbed of a husband, and children who were robbed of a father. The pain must have been unbearable.

Saul changed his name to Paul, which means small or humble. I’m sure he felt very small for what he had done, and he felt shame for it.

Although I am less than the least of all the Lords people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, – Eph 3:8

Paul could have let this shame stop him. He could have let this pain paralyze him. He could have let the fear of messing up stop him. But he didn’t. Instead he said this:

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on – Phil 3:14

Did you notice how says that he focuses on one thing, and then lists two things? The reason is because forgetting the past cannot be done without at the same time looking to the future.

Are you letting something in your past hold you back? Some sin, some pain, some hurt, some disappointment? Get a fresh start today. Jesus Christ came to this earth to die on the cross to pay for all your sins, and rose from the dead to become your Lord. He came to heal the broken hearted, and to bind up their wounds. If you put your trust in him he will darken your past and light up your future.

Say this prayer today:

“God I need you. I’ve messed up bad in life and I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry and I want to change. I hurt and I need you to heal me. Forgive me for all my sin. I accept you as my Savior and my new Lord. Heal now my broken heart O God, and bind up my wounds, just as you promised to do. Thank you Lord. I love you.”

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