In the beginning God...
In a funk? Moderns express the idea by asking, "out of sync?" Or simply, "disconnected?" It's just when we're unsettled or out of sorts in some way. Sometimes being in a funk is just short of actual depression. Just as often, it's when we're on a downturn, in a slow period, or missing a beat. There are many biblical synonyms for the idea of low moments in life. Losing heart is the one that strikes me most clearly. A couple of verses illustrate the how losing heart threatened the spiritual and emotional health of those seeking to serve---
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not
lose heart. Luke 18:1, ESV
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:1, ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is
being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV
And, of course, losing heart can be an entry portal to quitting. Broken and discouraged people are prone to admire the sidelines during acute and prolonged trials.
A life of consistent prayer is certainly an antidote to this kind of momentary lapse. Jesus said as much in Luke 18:1 before he told the Parable of the Persistent Widow. "Praying without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) lifts our hearts above what is happening in our lives at a given moment, a heavenly perspective, if you will. Still, there are dry moments in life when even our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling and the opportunity to step aside is so tempting. As 2 Corinthians 4:1 (listed above) indicates, there is another possibility when quitting seems to be the best option. Paul reminds his readers that's when they must remember the one whose mercy brought them to that place. For me, and the pastor's I counsel, it involves revisiting the start. That is, going back to when your purpose was clear and fresh.
Most of us have a moment of clarity when our life purpose was first realized. We call it many things too---our calling, a vision about life, education, career, marriage, children, or the future, certainly not necessarily in that order. Just the same, life happens and the luster of that defining experience is tarnished. Worn, and perhaps weary, getting out is the most convenient and life sparing possibility. That's when the glance back to the start may refresh and embolden us. Here's why---
1. The start is often an acknowledgment of providence.
Not everyone is a Christian and many people launch into life without a sense of
providential leadership. But, just as often, especially in the rear-view mirror,
there is a recognition of something divine about our direction in life. And,
Genesis 1:1 puts some of that providential leadership into perspective: "In the
beginning God...". When I've had low moments in spiritual leadership, or
marriage, or in parenting, or in the pursuit of some other life aspiration,
revisiting the start takes me to him. This truth casts a different shadow over
what is happening, helping me to see things more clearly. Even more, if there is
a providential element to that beginning, this revisit reminds me that God
doesn't change (see Malachi 3:6). It also reminds me that "he who began a
good work in you will bring it to completion" (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
As a side note, there are three framed Bible verses over m desk. They've been
guideposts of the start of my ministry life over 35 years ago. They are my Life
Verses, my Ministry Verses, and my Passion Verse. They are the truth God gave
me when I answered his call from the business world to full time spiritual and
pastoral leadership. Those verses are a constant reminder of what he said to me
back then. They are a way to revisit the start every time I glance at them.
2. The start reminds us of what has been important in our journey.
More and more the ministry of the Apostle Paul inspires me and many others
who are dealing with the curves and bumps of life's road. In his most trying
hours--- often times of severe persecution and suffering, accusations, threats,
questions about his Apostolic authority and other hardships---he revisited what
happened to him on that road to Damascus as a reminder of God's faithfulness
in guiding his life. Luke recorded it in Acts 9:1-31. But, Paul revisited that hour
in his Epistles to the churches as a fresh view of how God had guided,
equipped, and sustained him. He referenced that time in Luke's record of Acts
22:6-11, Acts 26: 13-19, Galatians 1:13-17, Philippians 3:4-7, and in many
other indirect phrases. Evidently it was a precious touchstone in his ministry.
Perhaps we too should reflect of the genesis of our life journey too.
3. The start gives greater clarity to our purpose.
If we are real for a moment, our purpose and aim in life may have taken some
turns away from what was originally intended. Revisiting the start gives us
reflection and clarity about where we started as opposed to where we are at
the moment. This revisit enables us to make course corrections and to remedy
drift that may have take us away from the path we originally charted. Paul told
the Corinthians to, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.
Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is
in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV).
Going back to the start is a strong reminder of what God intended when he
launched our course.
This next chapter puts me in contact with many leaders who are discouraged, asking critical questions, and are contemplating quitting. At the starting gate, they can often rediscover powerful truth about life, career, mission, and direction. Paul wrote it too.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Romans 11:29, ESV
Yes, we change and grow and deal with some of the hard things that throw us off course. But, then, there's truth. And, revisiting the start is often just what we need to rediscover it.
In a funk? Ready to quit? Revisit the start for a fresh look.