The Second Time Around
Ah, the joy of something new! There’s nothing quite like it. Some new product that works better than the old one. Some new way to get there faster. Some new fidelity to make it sound better. Some new wrench that works smoother. Some new machine that’s stronger. Some new story that tickles your fancy. Some new drug that makes your health problems easier to bear. There’s just something special about new stuff.
One of the best of all new things is new beginnings, the sheer joy of just being able to start over. I used to work math problems until I just got totally frustrated. In desperation, I’d wad the paper up, throw it at (notice, I said at) the trash can, and just start over again. A clean sheet of paper is a beautiful thing. It’s just great to be able to start over.
You’ll usually do it better the second time around.
Forgiveness makes possible the most beautiful of all new beginnings. Forgiveness means a new start, a new page, a new chapter to write. Forgiveness means that what was there before–sin with all its guilt–is no longer present, that sin–that which once blighted your character and distorted your view of things–is no longer present. It’s gone. It’s been sent away. Never to return. It’s like having a new sheet of paper.
When a person–one with faith and a penitent heart–is baptized into Christ (I Corinthians 12:13), he becomes a new creature, a new creation. His old person is taken away and he is made new (Romans 6:3-7). Paul talks about our becoming "new creatures in Christ." Hear him: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). In other words, when a man obeys the gospel of Christ, he becomes something entirely new, a new creation, one forgiven and clean, one totally devoid of his old sins. They’ve all been washed away. It’s as if they never existed. What a joy to know that when God forgives, He forgets. It’s the best of all new things, the first and most important of all new beginnings, forgiveness is.
But a new beginning is just that–a new beginning. Now you have to get on with this new life. There is learning to be done, corrections that need to be made in all your courses of life, new focuses to be engaged, new horizons to view, new determinations to be made, a new hope to embrace. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmove-able, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." We have to press on toward the mark, abound in the work of the lord, make our calling and election sure, work out our own salvation (Philippians 3:12-14; II Peter 1:10; Philippians 2:12). The new beginning is just the start of all we now have to do.
Paul puts this new beginning into a proper focus when he says, "For our conversation ("citizenship," NKJV) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all thing unto himself. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved (Philippians 3:20-4:1). We’re here in a probationary period, and we still have lots to think about, lots to do, before we get where we’re going.
And so, it behooves each of us to make our new beginning all that it was intended to be. Let’s be workers for the Lord. It’s the only life that makes any sense. And it’s the only way the new beginning can have any real worth in our lives.
As one fellow I know quite well once said, "If you miss heaven, you’ve just missed all there is."