Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 30, 2018

Make a new beginning

            The year ends. A new year begins. What a marvelous idea! It offers each of us the opportunity to do two healthy things: let go of the past and make a new beginning.

            The journey of life is more enjoyable when you travel light. And one of the best ways to lighten your load is to discard lingering guilt about your mistakes. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We yield to temptation. Pride takes over and we fall. We say and do stupid things without thinking.

Of course most of our mistakes are not tragic; they simply make life miserable. And we can overcome that misery by admitting we were wrong. Then, having done that incredibly difficult thing, we can ask for forgiveness and make amends whenever possible.

            Not all broken relationships can be healed. Sometime it is necessary to “get over it and move on.” We cannot “fix” every problem we face. That is why God offers us grace, the grace to accept his forgiveness, forgive others, forgive ourselves and move on into a new beginning.   

            As the year comes to a close, it will improve our health to identify negative “luggage” and cast it aside. Such excess baggage could be resentment toward someone who cheated you, anger toward someone who got what you thought you deserved, or even hatred toward someone who hurt you. That kind of luggage becomes heavier with each passing day so it is wise to get rid of it.

            Saint Paul told his Philippian friends that he was going to “forget” the past and look to the future. To be honest, there are somethings that are well-nigh impossible to forget. But we can try and God will help us because he has the power to set us free from the past. That can only happen, however, when we are willing to let go of the past. 

            On the last few days of every year I try to identify the things that are weighing me down. Having done that, I find that the Lord helps me “let go” of all that stuff so the load I carry into the new year will be lighter.

January first is a beautiful day, rain or shine, because it gives me a new start. Life has a way of grinding us down. A new beginning helps us find new energy to face the challenge and the misery of the new year. So during these days I enjoyed my family, watched some football games and threw out some emotional garbage that hopefully will help me to live each new day to the fullest.            

New beginnings are absolutely necessary. For example, most marriages will not last without several new beginnings. Mine would have ended in chaos years ago had Dean and I not “started over” many times.

            Fresh starts are necessary for friendships to survive. Stupid comments can rob us of the friendship of people we care about. Most of my friends have had to forgive me for saying something asinine. A real friend knows who you really are so true friends know that on occasion they must forgive you for those times when you speak before your brain is in gear.

            Friendship remain alive when people are willing to forgive one another and start over. Those who expect perfection from themselves and others wind up with few friends. Only those who learn how to say, “Please forgive me, I was wrong” will have lasting marriages or friendships.

            Fresh starts are necessary for spiritual growth. We need to care for the soul as well as the body so it helps to make a new start with spiritual disciplines. I need to be more diligent in worship and caring for the poor as well as prayer and Bible study. Since there is no substitute for a daily appointment with God, I need for my new beginning to include a time alone with God each morning.  

 Getting alone with God as the day begins – that may be the best idea I can share with you as one year ends and another begins. God can help us put the past behind us by burying old wounds, lingering guilt and hurt feelings. Doing so will prevent the past from dogging us to the grave.

While the past can hold us in bondage, God can break the chains that hold us hostage if we are willing to do one thing: Get over it and move on! Stop regurgitating your hurts. Flush guilt down the drain. Be done with it. If the people you have offended will not forgive you, then at least forgive yourself and throw yourself a fresh start party. Ask the good Lord to help you live a better life the rest of the way home. God delights in giving us a second chance – and a third and a fourth!

            Once we are willing to get over the stuff that enslaves us, we can move on. We can make a new start and nobody can rob us of the fun of celebrating our freedom from past pain, sin and failure. God loves a good party, especially a party where his children are drinking the sweet wine of forgiveness and making a new start.

            So ere December ends, ask the good Lord to help you let go of your past. And as January begins, ask him to help you make a new beginning.  It’s something God delights in doing because he loves you!!   + + +