A New Beginning
January, as the first month of the year, marks the start of something new. Many use it as an opportunity to start fresh — to begin healthier habits, to set new goals and priorities, to reset and refocus.
As we think of the new start and new beginning associated with the first month of the year, a powerful truth of Scripture comes to mind, and that is the new beginning offered by Jesus Christ to all who turn to Him.
Maybe we have gotten everything we could have ever wanted off of our list this Christmas. Maybe we got a raise or a bonus. Maybe we got tickets to our favorite show. Maybe we got a gift card to our favorite restaurant. These delights and comforts go a long way in making us happy, but it is amazing how all of these can feel hollow or empty when something is not right in our lives. When a relationship is broken, when we’ve done something to hurt someone and they’ve stopped talking to us, when find ourselves in the midst of a fight with a friend or a spouse, it’s amazing how all the gifts and money in the world can fade to nothing. If only we’d be able to talk like friends again, if only we knew they had forgiven us, if only there was peace in our home. We’d trade everything for this, for our relationships to be right again.
Peter knew this feeling well. Peter had grown incredibly close to Jesus over the three years he spent journeying with the Messiah during His earthly ministry. When Peter heard that Jesus was going to suffer and be abandoned by everyone, Peter pledged to his Savior that he would never leave Him. But we know well what happened. When life got hard, Peter found himself doing something he never thought he would do. He disowned Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. After it happened and he realized what he had done, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). The shame and weight of his sin pressed onto Peter’s heart. He knew how much his actions must have broken the heart of his Savior who loved him so much.
Would there be a future to his relationship with Jesus? Would God forgive him for what he had done? As he wept, we imagine that Peter sat in a place of brokenness and despair with these questions on his mind. Yet the answer to these questions was not the end that Peter might have expected. Upon His resurrection, Jesus invites Peter to His side and asks him a simple question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16). Jesus asks the question three times, one time for each of the instances that Peter denied Jesus. It was a question of commitment. Each time Jesus asked it, Jesus invited Peter to turn back and recommit his life to Him. Though Peter’s sin was great and it grieved the Lord, the Lord also loved Peter so much that He died for that sin on the cross. He was willing to forgive and have Peter back so long as Peter was willing to recommit his heart back to the Lord. That’s all He asked: turn back to me and give me your heart once more.
We all have stumbled along the way. We all have hurt someone. Right now you may be sitting in a place of grief or shame wondering what you could ever do to make it right and how anything will ever change. The first step is to turn to the Lord and to get your heart right with Him. Acknowledge what you have done, confess your sin, and turn your heart to Him once more. He is faithful and just to forgive your sins.
With your heart now surrendered to the Lord, He will help to show you the way. He will lead you in what steps to take to make amends. And while it may not always be easy, while the result you want may not happen right away, know that the Lord will be on your side.
As you begin this new year, maybe you are facing heartache and defeat. Know that Jesus offers a new beginning to all who turn to Him. He is waiting to help you and heal you. Receive His invitation!
In Gratitude of His Grace,
Pastors Garritt and Sanette