I have a thing about new beginnings. New years, new months, new seasons, new things.
Ever since I was a kid, buying a new journal felt like embarking on a trip around the world. Somehow, the sight of clean, unmarked pages ready for me to unload my thoughts, prayers, stories, characters and insights into absolutely thrilled me. It was a clean slate; a fresh start.
In the same way, I love the opening score of a movie. I get chills when I hear the music building, knowing that something wonderful is about to happen. I just can’t help but feel the excitement and nervousness from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.
I felt that same anticipation a few months ago when God surprised me with a new beginning I could have never expected. I had that butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling for the first time when a hand reached out to help me out of the car. I had that big goofy smile on my face whenever I received a text. I had that little pep in my step that came from knowing that I had something special happening in my life. Even as I guarded my heart, I began to fall for a sweet guy with a big heart and blue eyes.
To me, it seemed almost like a miracle. God redeemed something that I had obediently laid down and moved on from. He had healed a relationship that I never thought could be. He had granted me a new beginning that I hadn’t even asked for with the man I’d spent most of my adult life loving.
I can’t express in words the joy that comes when you see God take something that you once gave to Him as a sacrifice, and completely redeem, renew and refresh it. It’s like jumping into the coldest mountain creek on the hottest summer day.
You see, I’ve been walking in a desert this past year – a season of wandering in the wilderness, hungry, thirsty and lonely, yet sustained by my Heavenly Father. This relationship refreshed me like an oasis in the sand, complete with shade trees, cool water and unbelievable joy.
The joy of my oasis was punctuated by a gift, a journal to be exact. One covered with bright, happy floral patterns and the words: “Be Filled With Joy!” I honestly couldn’t tell you what I was more excited about: receiving such a beautiful gift, or being able to write about this new beginning and the ones to come in it.
The butterflies fluttered. The music began to build.
And then, the guy made the decision to walk in another direction and it was gone, like a mirage in the desert. What I thought was a new beginning became a permanent ending.
In the moments after, I cried out to God for comfort and understanding, “But it was a new beginning. It was good. It was happy. It was joyful!” Even as I prayed, the heat of the season, the weight of the loneliness fell on my shoulders yet again.
In those moments and the days that followed, joy was the farthest thing from my mind. Pain and grief were my close companions, and somehow, the heat increased. The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick [Prov. 13:12]. More than ever before, I learned what it meant to be heart sick. I was lonely, I missed my friend, and I felt the loss deep in my soul.
It was only as I reached for God’s Word one night to quench my thirst that I remembered the journal I had received. I picked it up, shedding more than a few tears that it was “ruined” now, tarnished somehow by an ending I didn’t want or foresee. The journal was too beautiful to hold within it a painful ending.
I heard His gentle whisper, “Don’t miss the beauty in the new beginning.”
As I looked at the light, happy cover again and considered those words, I felt this trickle of joy begin to bubble up in my tired soul, like water bubbling up from beneath the dry, cracked ground. Even then, in the midst of my pain, it brought a smile to my face, joy to my heart and hope to my soul.
Up until that moment, I had been so blinded by the pain of the ending that I was missing the beauty of the new beginning that was following it.
I wasn’t seeing the miracle work that God had done and the testimony of restoration that I could now tell because regardless of the choice he made to go another direction, God had still healed a friendship that had weathered more than a few storms. I wasn’t seeing the freedom I now felt, for the first time in six years, to truly open my heart to the mighty man of God that the Lord has chosen for me to marry. I wasn’t seeing the protection or the leading of the Holy Spirit, or even the evidence of my own growth and maturity as a follower of Christ.
I wasn’t seeing that God had put me in the perfect position to step into a new beginning, blameless in His sight, covered in His grace, and called onward with joy.
That new beginning began this weekend with baptism. It began as I left a past full of painful endings in the water and arose to a new beginning with deep joy in my heart. It continued as I walked up the steps to Bible school, stepping into a completely new season, into a new beginning unlike any I’ve ever known.
But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19
Sister, don’t let the pain of an ending blind you from the beauty of the new beginning God is bringing into your life. This IS a new season. He will create rivers where it has been dry. He will create a pathway through your wilderness. There is beauty here, and He is calling you out to see it because He doesn’t want you to miss the opening scene.
The music is building. Can you hear it?