Do you like painting? I don't always like the preparation or cleanup after painting, but I do like the process and the result of painting. There's something nice about working hard on a project that feels tedious in the moment but stepping back and seeing a completely fresh look when it's all finished.
Monday morning when I got to the church office, I wasn't alone like usual. There was a whole team of people ready to paint the Fellowship Hall! They worked hard all week scraping sections, spackling, painting the trim and doors, cutting in, rolling, up high and down low, moving tables, furniture, drop cloths and step stools. It took a lot of helping hands, hours, and hard work. It actually looked worse at one point before it started to look better. As I'm writing this, it sure looks like a completely fresh look. I'm so excited about sprucing up the room. There's something beautiful about a fresh look to create a more hospitable atmosphere for those that use this space for ministries, blood drives, coffee fellowship. But it's not just the finished product that was nice. It was nice to just be together. Throughout the days as the hall was busy with people, we shared stories, hopes, laughs. We asked each other questions and got to know each other a little bit better. Doing something together was fun.
Do you ever feel like you need a fresh start? Like there's something you wish were different in your life that would really make things better? A habit, a relationship, a job, a struggle? The good news is that we serve a God of fresh starts. Each day is a reminder of God's grace that helps us recenter our lives on him. Looking to him for salvation helps us know that we are on a new journey in God's presence.
As Colossians 3:9-10 says, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
We get a fresh start with Jesus. in him we shed the old self with the practices that are destructive to ourselves and others, and we put on the new self, renewed in knowledge of our Creator God. Isn't it beautiful that God can take us from one thing and make us fresh and newly in his image? We might not always see it through the process; in fact, some days it may look like we take steps backwards! But one day it will be clear just how much of a difference life with God has made in us and through us. Want to know something else? We don't do this work alone. It's a process God performs in us with a community of believers that we share life with. I pray we experience fresh starts in our lives today and this year. Look for those moments when we do life together. Look for it in our life groups, when we go to class with others, when we hear God's word preached, when we stop by our friends for coffee, when we serve each other. When we run into each other unexpectedly at the store. God has given us the gift of life with him resulting in new selves and a beautiful community together. I'm grateful for you all and the joy that we share with one another.