“I’ve blown it too many times!” I have heard this many times over my years with Street Hope. People have falls, big and small, and they count them instead of sheep. They feel they have failed at life, and indeed some have. The good news we share though is there is an offer of a new beginning. Past failure does not need to define us! Some say “God is the God of the second chance.” I like to say “God is the God of another chance.” No matter our history or circumstances God offers a new beginning. In the midst of the tearful account of one of the darkest periods of Israel’s history, Jeremiah writes “His mercy is new every morning.” The idea of a ‘fresh start’ is integral to the message of forgiveness and welcome, of the gospel.
I have been thinking a lot about new beginnings. In my personal studies I have just begun to look at 1 John. Right at the beginning he writes about beginnings. John seems to love beginnings (probably something he picked up from Jesus). In his Gospel he says of Jesus “in the beginning was the Word…” This is a different beginning than the one he speaks about in 1 John. The John chapter 1 beginning refers to the beginning which is in the eternal past, that is, forever ago. In Genesis 1 we read “In the beginning…” and this refers to another beginning. This is the beginning of the creation when the Eternal Word spoke everything into being. This is not the beginning of 1 John. In 1 John he writes of the beginning of a relationship with Jesus. Add in Jeremiah’s idea of new beginnings every day and you soon see God as the God of fresh starts.
Another beginning for me was the moving of our Street Hope ‘Study & Prayer” to Out Flow, the men’s shelter. The shelter, like many, is an 8 to 8 shelter. This means it opens at 8 PM and the men must leave at 8 AM. After talks with the spiritual director of the centre and prayer, we decided to move our study there and move the time to 8 o’clock in the morning. This gives the guys an opportunity to stay indoors longer because few things are open at 8. Most of our regulars thought they could join this and so this week we made the move. Like many new beginnings it was not an instant success but we are in this for the long haul. It has meant a new schedule for me but I like the possibilities.
Another new beginning occurred with the start of our Recovery Workshop. The key leader in this has just recovered from a scary heart attack and this is his first venture back. We have done this a dozen or more times over the years but it is new each time. We had a group of 13 start and there was a real sense of anticipation in the air. The goal is for each person to discover a new way to live, as spiritual people. It was a great beginning!
This last week marked my 38th year as a commissioned evangelist. I have been at this for a while but I still love these new beginnings!