By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
Sometimes we are jolted into the realisation that the way we have been living is just not good enough and we are ready to make a change. What does one do when the old way will not suffice?
The best way to make a change is to ask God to give you a new beginning. This simple admission that it is not in your hands relieves you of much of the pressure to make it all happen. It is a step in the right direction.
Psalm 86:11-13 NIV: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.”
The realisation that a new beginning is really possible gradually begins to “sink in” and you can relax your grip on old habits as new interests surface to take their place. If you never read the Bible regularly, you may want to study a simple version with helpful notes, and attend a class in your church that will answer some of your questions.
Psalm 119:33-40 GNT: “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.”
Prayer is a time to be alone in order to pour out your heart as the words come to you, speaking out loud, writing in a journal, or silently reflecting in simple meditation. You listen and wait for thoughts to enter your stream of consciousness or quietly occupy yourself with menial tasks which leave your mind receptive.
1 Samuel1:10-18 GNT: “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord, Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’ ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.’ Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ “
Forgiveness is something that has to be accepted as an undeserved gift, and all too often we punish ourselves unnecessarily with guilt and shame that linger long after the fact. We have to believe that God is faithful to forgive and gratefully begin all over again.
Confession with spoken absolution offered by a priest or minister is another way to feel free from the burden of sin: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1: 8-10 NIV).
Tithing is an outlet to bless others and build the budget of a congregation that is seeking to serve God faithfully. The giving of tithes and offerings is a step of trust that takes us further along the road of commitment and self-dedication.
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’ “ (Malachi 3:8-10 NIV).
Active ministry is yet another strong medicine for a soul that needs to be involved in order to use dormant gifts, and to stir up stagnant memories of childhood kindness. The giving of our time, and the sharing of talent, are worthwhile additions to any schedule that has God at its centre.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV)
Worship brings us to a place where the family of God gathers to celebrate new beginnings and overcome old bondages. The mixture of singing and motion, the audio and the visual, the fellowship and the learning, and so much more, satisfy the spirit with the things that are beyond rational understanding.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17 NIV).
Changes in life-style gradually occur until what was once new becomes a natural way to experience life on a daily basis.
The strange becomes comfortable, and the old seems unpalatable.
This season may be savoured for a while until something else happens to brings us up short, and once more we have to move to a deeper level to find peace, or climb to a higher height to breathe purer air.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.