During a Sunday-morning worship service, a mother tried everything she could think of — including rewards, scoldings, and threats — to get her fidgety 7-year-old son to be quiet. Nothing worked. Finally, about halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered something in the little boy’s ear.
He immediately stopped fidgeting and sat quietly for the rest of the service. Afterward, a friend sitting in the row behind asked the young mother what she had said to her son.
The mother smiled and replied, “If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place, and then he’ll have to start his sermon all over again.”
As much as little boys (and most of the rest of us) dislike the idea of having the preacher “start over”, it’s not something that any of us like to do in our own lives. But there are times when we need to start over.
When it comes to trying to live godly lives, we all mess up. As good as our intentions are, as much as we promise ourselves that “I’ll never make that mistake again”, we find ourselves at the throne of God time and again, seeking grace and mercy, and having to start over. It’s not easy, and it requires humility on our part, but fortunately, God gives us that opportunity when we truly repent.
Just as difficult are the trials we face that force us to start over. Maybe you've had a serious illness or injury, and it finally looks like you’re going to get well, but there’s a setback in your health which requires you to start all over again. That news can be more devastating than the original diagnosis. Or maybe it’s a financial problem you’re facing. And just when it looked like there was a light at the end of the tunnel, your car or the washing machine breaks down or the kids need braces, and you’re back to square one trying to get your debt cleared up.
Such experiences require a perseverance that says, “No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks I have, no matter how many times I have start over, I will not give up.” As Solomon wrote: “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again.” (Proverbs 24:16, NET). It's not a question of whether we will fall. We will fall, but the righteous man, the wise man, continues to rise up and is willing to start over time and again.
If you find yourself discouraged today because you've failed God, may you seek His forgiveness and start over living the life that God wants you to live. If you're facing trials today that leave you wondering what's the use in trying any more, may God provide you strength to rise up and start over!