The older I get, the more set in my ways I become. So new things and new methods are not always looked on with anticipation.
Any time there is a new smartphone released, I read where people stand in line for hours for an opportunity to buy the newest and latest version. Not me—I am content with the one I have.
For most of us, it's easy to get comfortable with things the way they are. But scripture certainly calls us to not fall into complacency regarding our faith, our witness and our work for the kingdom. Stated simply—we should be watchful for new paths that the Lord has for us, for new ventures that require not just a step, but a leap of faith. Let's be alert to new opportunities that require obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit at a time when we'd rather just keep doing what we've been doing.
Hopefully you'll be encouraged by this month's Western Recorder theme of "New Beginnings." You'll read a first-person account about the new beginnings that youth can experience at Crossings Camp. There's a story about a Kentucky Baptist church which had gone years without taking an overseas mission trip, but that hiatus ended this year and 120 people saw their eternal destiny changed as a result. You'll read about struggling churches and how they can meet the challenge of survival. That's just a glimpse of the new beginnings highlighted this month.
We can all be encouraged by the new beginnings from heroes of faith in scripture. There was Joseph, who experienced a variety of new beginnings — going from being the favored son to being a slave, then to being a prisoner, then to becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt who saved his family from famine. There's Noah. He had a new beginning that's hard to fathom. He went into the ark, and emerged to a new life and a new world. We understand the new beginning Moses had as the deliverer of his people from bondage in Egypt. There's Joshua, whose new beginning involved entering, overcoming and occupying the Promised Land. Nehemiah's new beginning took him from being the king's cupbearer to being a master wall builder in Jerusalem.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist ushered in a new beginning by being the voice of one crying in the wilderness to "make straight the way of the Lord." There's Saul, whose new beginning (and new name) came on the Damascus Road.
In a recent article, Chuck Lawless made the statement "we can always look forward to new beginnings." Even though life can be hard and difficult, painful and discouraging, he points out that Christ followers have the resurrection as a reminder that our God is a God of new beginnings, and we need never give up.
We rejoice in the fact that Christ's atoning death on Calvary's cross is the most crucial new beginning for mankind. When we trust the resurrected Christ as Savior, scripture says we are a new creation, old things are passed away, all things have become new. What a glorious new beginning.
As we walk the Christian pathway, all of us face times of a new beginning.
Some can be difficult …
•There is that time your children leave home to attend college or enter the military or the workforce—it can be a tumultuous new beginning for couples whose married life now is totally different than it has been for almost two decades.
• There is that time that your spouse, your constant companion for much of your life, becomes ill and passes away. Now you face a new beginning without your best friend.
• There's that time that after years of faithful service at your church, God impresses upon you and your family that He has a new beginning for you — and it may involve moving from the community and church you have called home for so long to a place where you know no one and where times may be harder than at any other point in your life.
But many new beginnings can be glorious …
• The time a man and woman, in the sanctity of marriage, vow to love each other till parted by death.
• The time you hear "Congratulations, you now are parents of a healthy baby (boy or girl)."
• The time your adolescent son or daughter, with tears of joy, says to you: "I've asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior."
As you read this month's Western Recorder, consider what new beginnings the Lord is impressing upon your heart and act upon that leading. All the time remembering that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Chip Hutcheson is interim managing editor of the Western Recorder, a monthly magazine of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.