Monday, June 13, 2011

New Beginnings

Within 48 hours last week, my babies turned twelve and my oldest graduated 8th grade. It was a busy couple of days and so I hadn't thought about it much until I got a call from my son at school asking me to drive his yearbook over so he could get autographs. He had forgotten it at home. No big deal, it was my day off and we're less than three minutes away so I drove it over and brought it into the office.

It had been ten years since my first visit to that room for kindergarten registration for Caitlin and it suddenly occurred to me I may never set foot in the building again.

I sort of lost it.

Contrary to popular opinion amongst my siblings, I am not an overly emotional person. But I cried a little in the midst of those 48 hours while I realized I am now the mother of two junior high students and a high schooler. Everyone starts new in the fall. Actually Caitlin starts new on Wednesday - she's enrolled in a summer school class.

Starting new can be scary. Maybe that's why we don't choose to do it all that often.

I think of myself as someone who adapts fairly easily to change - I'm not a very structured person by nature. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman - "I wouldn't say I'm a planner, I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kinda-gal - moment-to-moment." I wonder who I've been comparing myself to getting that impression of myself, because when I stopped to think about it, not much has changed in the past couple of decades. Or four.

I've been married to the same man for 21 years. I've had the same hairdresser my entire married life. We've been worshipping at the same church for 22 years. I only switched doctors because mine died. I've subscribed to the U2 fan magazine/website for 28 years and vacationed in Arcadia, Michigan every summer for 32 years. Aside from six months in Alabama in 1992, I have lived under an O'Hare flight path every day of my life. I have always used Crest toothpaste.

Apparently, I don't begin a lot of new things.

That could be why I was blindsided by an emotional outburst over all three of my children starting new schools.

It's easy to understand why they are nervous and not all that excited about these new beginnings. They aren't ready to leave all that is comfortable and familiar. They don't know what to expect.

We were reading in Genesis together the other day about Noah's Ark. Ryan had lots of questions about why God flooded the whole earth and wiped everything and everyone (except for Noah, his family and two of every animal species) off the face of it. We talked about the wickedness of the people and the incredible holiness of God and how grieved He must have been that all of humanity had been so evil except this one man. We also talked about the kind of faith Noah must have had to spend 100 years building an ark to the exact specifications of a God no one else honored.

While he was made fun of.

While there was no sign of rain.

When he had no instructions about what to do after the flood.

God gave Noah a new beginning.

At church right now they are preaching through the book of Ruth. It's only four chapters, but man are they chock full. Naomi left the land of Judah with her husband and two sons and relocated in a foreign land. Her sons married women who weren't of their faith or heritage. Then all three men died. Naomi, which means pleasant, asked to be called "Mara," which means bitter, because she felt the Lord had abandoned her. But she returned to her people and amazingly her daughter-in-law Ruth went with her. Not reluctantly, or even resentfully, rather Ruth clung to Naomi and traveled with her to a foreign land that worshipped a God she didn't know.

And God in His kindness provided for these women. Boaz, a relative of Naomi's, gave them food and eventually married Ruth, literally redeeming her in the process. The Hebrew word used to describe Boaz was "goel" which means "kinsman-redeemer." It's the same word used to describe Jesus Christ. Gone are the days of famine and heartache for Ruth and Naomi. They know who will take care of them and that Boaz is faithful to do it.

Jesus, the most faithful and worthiest of all men, redeems His people from all their sins, past, present and future. He delivers us from death. But to do this, he has to take us out of our old nature. He removes us from everything we know and transports us to a new place. He takes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh. He gives new life.

That's a new beginning I hope everyone makes.

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