New Chapters

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Time to read: 4 minutes

New beginnings. We recognize New Year’s Day as the ultimate new beginning, establishing a fresh set of goals and resolutions. Right now, we are in the midst of yet another new start—that of a new school year. Students, teachers, parents, and exhausted store clerks all over the US have felt the build-up of the last few weeks and prepared for that magical first day of school. In the spirit of this exciting educational season, I would like to take just a few minutes to challenge you to launch an incredibly rewarding adventure of your own. After all, as God authors the book of your life with great intentionality, there are many beginnings and many endings. It’s always a great time start a new chapter.

As the proud mama of four fabulous kids (ages 14, 15, 19, & 20), I was a home-educator for most of the last 17 years. Each fall, I eagerly scoured over the vast array of resources that we had to choose from and carefully selected what I felt would best suit our purposes for the coming year. Sometimes, we continued to use resources that we were familiar and comfortable with, and other times, we ventured out into the unknown. Either way, I formulated goals and a plan, and I executed them to the best of my ability.

Some years honestly appeared to be more successful than others. Let’s face it, life happens! Some years, I felt as if I had completely let my family down. We had family issues, health issues, and motivation issues (for the teacher, as well as the students!) One year, we had our home on the market. Try corralling 4 smallish kids, their toys and clothes, all of their school paraphernalia, and a Great Dane puppy, while keeping the house clean and ready to show in a moment’s notice…fun times!

Despite my best efforts, by the time we reached the end of each school year, it didn’t look like I had envisioned in the previous fall. We still learned a lot and did some incredible things, but life required the journey to change a bit. Or maybe even change a lot.

We all experience cycles in life where things don’t go as planned. But for some, their life becomes completely unrecognizable. At Catalyst Ministries, we believe that “every person matters and every person is worth fighting for,” no matter what that life might look like. Each of us is created in the image of God Himself (Genesis 1:27). We are not worth fighting for because of anything that we have or have not done, but solely because God gives us life and He gives us Himself (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8).

I can’t explain why some children are born into loving, protective homes while others are subjected to horrendous acts of injustice. No child ever dreams about growing up to become a trafficked prisoner (if he has even had the chance to dream at all). And no single mother longs to sell her body so that she can feed her children.

Some trapped in trafficking have absolutely no choice, no way out. Others appear to be making a choice but are either unaware that they have any other options or they are under binding family obligations to provide by any means necessary. Failing in these obligations may mean sentencing a younger sibling take their place.

So, I have a challenge for you, for all of us, actually. One that may lead to a new chapter in your book of life. Are you ready for this? It’s actually very simple, but not always easy…open your heart. Walk in love. See people as God sees them.

We all have some sort of ragged past but somehow it still seems so easy to look at someone and pass a quick judgement on who they must be. The truth is, circumstances don’t define you, your choices don’t even define you, your Creator God does. Your less-than-perfect past can either permanently devour you, or it can be laid at the cross where Jesus Christ gave His very life & took on your sin and your shame.

Only He can make something good come out of the filth…and my filth is no better and no worse than your filth. Filth is filth; sin is sin. If we can’t look on someone with love, then how can we expect anyone to look on us with love? But they do. He does. And as Christ-followers, we should strive to do to the same.

Proverbs 6:30 tells us “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry.” There is a saying by an unknown author that coincides with this scripture: “Don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” So, maybe we can strive to make the most of each encounter that God brings to us, be less critical of one another, and learn to extend grace. After all, without Jesus, we are all in the same proverbial prison.

What can you do to begin a new chapter and intentionally walk in love today?

  • Pray for those who are trapped physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, and spiritually.
  • Pray that God will place someone who needs encouragement in your path today.
  • Be compassionate—don’t look down on someone just because they aren’t like you.
  • Make eye contact and be kind…smile! You might get one back!
  • Don’t be afraid to engage, chat, give a pat on the back and maybe even a hug—deep down, we all long for safe, human touch.
  • If it looks like someone could use a hand, give them one.

Next month, I will address some specific ways to support those who have been traumatized or are at-risk, then I will also discuss how to overcome the barriers that might be keeping you from stepping into a more supportive role. I will also share some of the specific areas where Catalyst is reaching out and making a difference locally and globally. Please “like” and “share” to help get the word out!

 

~Ephesians 5:1-2, 15-17 

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

~Tracy

Catalyst Ministries