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Yesterday a friend shared that she felt her life was just a series of “starting overs”.  Her heart was heavy and her soul was discouraged.  Things weren’t working out the way she’d planned – again.  My heart hurts because her heart hurts and I wish I could change her situation.  I wish I could tell her what to do to make it miraculously better.  But the truth is, there are no quick and easy answers.

Isn’t that just the way of life?  Are any of us where we really wanted to be today?  Has anyone not seen dreams die or goals remain unreached?  When I was in 8th grade I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would become a nurse.  Instead I became a wife.  When I lived for riding horses I never dreamed of a day when my pasture would be empty but my motorcycle shop would be full.  When I was pregnant for the first time I never imagined that my son would never take a first breath.  On my wedding day I didn’t know marriage would be so hard, or for that matter parenting, keeping house, keeping my sanity. 

We’ve all had to readjust our plans along the way.  Sometimes it was by choice and we looked forward to an exciting venture.  Other times it was heartbreaking and seemed unfair and impossible.

But at least for me, and I’m relatively sure for the rest of you, it was a time of growth and discovery.  Even the most painful times in our journey give birth to a fresh awareness of how strong we are, how amazing a right turn can end up being, and how, regardless of what was left behind, there are treasures to be had up ahead.

Starting over points make us see again and again who is really in control.  We think that we are and we make choices, good and bad, but God channels them both into the direction He wants us to go.  When it seems all is lost, the one thing we can hold on to is His wisdom and His grace. Only God can turn a loss into a win, a seemingly fatal mistake into a life giving lesson, a brick wall into short pause. 

Each time we dissolve into tears and think we’ve failed, God turns our tears into a river of opportunity and provides a boat.  We just have to get in and start rowing.  The most important thing though is letting him set our course.  Most of our “starting overs” come from a lack of seeking direction in our past endeavors. That’s not to say that tragedy beyond our control doesn’t strike us now and then because it does.  The race we run as citizens of this world is a grueling one. Even the most athletically fit will stumble and fall along the way.

The falling down – the divorce, the bankruptcy, the loss of a job, the parenting disappointments, the damage we’ve done – those aren’t the climactic moments in our book of life.  The fact that we keep on going, keep on singing, keep on believing and keep on starting over are the page turners. 

In the end it doesn’t matter that we aren’t where we expected ourselves to be.  It only matters that we end up where God planned for us to be.  And do you know where that is?  At the throne of grace, forgiven of all our sin and failure, shining with the light of Jesus and surrounded by the people who watched our journey and were inspired to follow along.

For my friend whose broken heart inspired this post, you are at one of the most beautiful places of all, the place where you choose to fall into His great big, comforting, safe and secure hands so that He can pour His love out upon you, whisper His promises into your heart, put your broken pieces back together and set you on your feet again, down a fresh new path that leads to joy.

Today, tomorrow and the next day will be hard for you.  Count on me to walk alongside.  I’ll buy the Starbucks, listen to the problems, pat you on the back and take your phone calls.  But He is the one who will actually take your fractured pieces and form the work of art you will become as you take this turn and navigate your way down the path.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

 

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