Starting Over

/ / Articles, Blog, Encouragement


Believe it or not, I have the same New Year’s resolution each year: “I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions.” Why? They don’t seem to last. Not only that, I usually can’t think of anything new that I want to start, and I already have enough about my life that I’m trying to change without adding more to the list. For example, I have a bad habit of being very sarcastic and saying the first thing that’s on my mind. As you can probably imagine, that’s not a good combination. When students in my class give answers that are so far in left field that I just want so shake my head in disbelief and pretend it didn’t happen, about a 1000 smart-aleck comments come to mind. For example, when I ask them to write a sentence about the weather one day during the previous week and what they wore that day and a student’s response is “el voleibol,” the things I am tempted to say aren’t always the nicest. And yes, “el voleibol” means exactly what you think it means. Hint: It’s not, “Last Friday, it was cold and windy. I wore a coat and gloves.”

One good thing about the new year is that my students get to start over. Why? The new year is usually also the start of a new semester. If they had a rough time during the previous nine weeks or didn’t get the grade they wanted, they can start over with a new set of notes, a new topic, and a brand-new grade.

God’s grace is like that, too. Jesus told Nicodemus the following about the new life He offers in John 3:3-5 (NASB):

Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus tells Nicodemus that we must be born again, born of the water and the Spirit, to be a part of God’s kingdom, His Church. Later in the Bible, we read something similar from Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

I like to think of the Parable of the Prodigal Son when it comes to starting over. In this parable, a son takes his inheritance from his father, leaves home, wastes all the money on sinful living, and then about starves to death before realizing his sin. He humbly returns to his father, hoping to be accepted as a servant. Instead, his father runs to him, embraces him, and throws a welcome home party. The excitement of the father in the parable shows us how excited God is when one of His children who have wandered away from Him returns in humility and repentance. God calls His Church to do what we can to reach out to those who have fallen away from faithfulness to God and bring them back to Him. For example, in James 5:19-20, we read the following:

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Satan works hard to first of all keep people away from God and then to pull people away from God and His Church once they have surrendered their lives to Him. Christians have the responsibility of helping one another resist this temptation. When someone falls, God calls us to restore them gently. For example, here is what we read from Paul in Galatians 6:1-2:

Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Most days, it’s difficult to live faithfully for God. Satan makes sure of that. This is why time spent with God’s Church and time spent in God’s Word are so valuable. God has given us these gifts to help us be the type of people that God has called us to be.

Through Jesus Christ and the truth of the Bible, God has shown us how we can start over spiritually. You can read God’s instructions to His followers in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 and God’s instructions for salvation to the Jews in Acts 2. God has given us everything we need to start over spiritually and to help others do the same. The choice is up to us what we do with these precious gifts from our heavenly Father. Will you gratefully and humbly accept them or turn your back on the One who loves you more than anyone and say, “No thanks”? One of these choices leads to eternal life with God in heaven. Which will you choose?

Dan Hildebrand, Spanish 1 teacher @ and Spanish 2 teacher @


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).