The Best Time for New Beginnings

change ahead

Genesis 12:1-7

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.
5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, ***and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

The story of Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, is a familiar one. God came to Abram and told him that he was about to undergo a dramatic life-change. God’s plan for Abram included a new beginning. God told Abram to leave his homeland and travel to an, as yet, undetermined location. God simply told him to travel “to the land I will show you.”

Abram obeyed the voice of the Lord. He gathered his family and packed up his belongings and, with his servants and livestock, they headed south. Eventually they arrived in Canaan where God told Abram that this land would belong to him and his ancestors.

It’s difficult to imagine Abram’s state of mind in all of this disruption but it’s significant that the scripture provides us with his age at the time of God’s appearance to him. He was 75 years old. And though Abram by the standards of that day was apparently a man of wealth, he was taking a big risk to uproot his entire family and move to a new homeland. He was 75 years old and starting over.

Abram’s experience poses an interesting question for me: When is the best time for a new beginning?

If we are confronted with this question when we are young, the answer is often, “When I’m older, wiser and have more wealth.” If confronted with this question when we are older the answer is often, “When I was younger, stronger, more adventurous and less anchored to places, families and habits.”

You see, new beginnings are risky. They offer little security and fewer solutions than challenges. In other words, they scare us! Yet, new beginnings are also, strangely, exhilarating; they peak our interest, get our juices flowing, keep us on our toes and energize us to action. And because of this, we often jack up our courage and take the leap into something unknown and unexpected.

Instead of playing it safe, we decide to pack up everything and move, we sign up for a course at the university, we volunteer to serve at the food bank, we tutor or mentor someone, we invest in a new business, we take a risk we’ve thought about but never tried. Here’s a personal example from my own experience.

I love to sail. In the beginning I loved the idea of sailing. It seemed exciting, challenging and fun. But one day I had to decide if I wanted to imagine sailing or if I actually wanted to sail. So I began reading about the sport, learned all I could about theory and different boats and even took a sailboat excursion on a vacation in Hawaii. Then, one year, when I was on staff at a youth camp there sat an old broken down 10′ sailboat, if you could call it that. I rigged it up as best I could and launched it from the shore. There wasn’t much wind and the boat was a tub which made it hard to sail so I spent a lot of time just trying to get it moving, but the experience helped me believe I could learn to sail. I later signed up for lessons and passed the tests on paper and on the water to get my sailing credentials which would allow me to rent sailboats.

I’ve owned a couple of sailboats along the way and have sailed as much as possible through the years. Yet, every time I have the opportunity I have to nudge myself into actually doing it because I’m usually alone and single-handed sailing is more risky (and less fun) than sailing with someone else. And because I don’t get to sail often, it can feel like a new beginning every time. But once the wind hits the sails and the boat starts to move, it all comes back and the fun begins.

This week is the beginning of a new school year for some of you. I remember how every year the first day of school was a mix of uncertainty and excitement. Will I see familiar friends? Will the classes be too hard for me? Will I feel like a misfit or will I fit in? It always felt like a risk, but it was never as bad as I would imagine it to be the night before.

To you beginning a new school year, we want you to know we are praying for you and cheering for you to succeed. For you parents, we have your backs as well. It feels risky to send our kids off again, but soon a new routine will emerge and things will settle down.

Sometimes new beginnings are chosen for us; a new school year, we get laid off, life confronts us with some unexpected event which alters the path we thought we were on. dOther times we get to choose a new beginning. But for all of us, it’s good to be reminded that there will always be risks in life but they’re usually never as bad as we imagine. If we never take a risk we will never experience the excitement of a new adventure.

God may not ask you or I to pack up everything and move, but it is certain that God will present us with opportunities to move in new directions. We can go or we can stay, we can embrace the challenge or we can live in fear, we can face the risk or we can settle for the ordinary.

Just remember this, our best stories are the ones born of adventures embraced and challenges faced. We don’t want to be spectators of life, we want to be participants who experience life every day.

And, who knows, we may find ourselves looking over a new horizon we never expected to see; in a new land we never thought we’d explore.

Abram chose to go rather than stay. What will you do? 

Speak Your Mind

*

...