“Can we start again please?”

One of my first memories of being on a big stage was of sharing a piano stool with my big sister at the Burton Music Festival, messing up our duet and calling down to the adjudicator, “Can we start again please?”. It was my fault – much to the annoyance of my sister, I hadn’t perfected it at any point the day before! After a stern nod from the important lady at the front, when we did start again, I messed it up again! After a sharp elbow dig in the side telling me to shut up and just get it over with, we just fudged it and carried on.

In which areas of your life do you just want to ‘start again’?  I’ve got lots at the moment! It feels like a race to get things finished before we get to the holidays and I just want to be able to draw a line under things and turn over a new leaf in September. There are beautiful journals I’ve ruined by writing mundane shopping lists on the first page; I’ve blundered through first meetings with blank-faced people, rambling on about a place I only half remember or starting off on some vague connection I thought we had. Minutes into the awkward conversation (more like monologue), I wish I could just ‘start again please’.

It’s so appealing to start again that the hateful decluttering process has become addictive – people are so happy when they’ve had a good clear out and overcome the urge to hoard their stuff. Would this have happened without the media frenzy surrounding the phenomenon? I’m not sure. It takes community and friendship to inspire and encourage us to change when we’re stuck in a rut.

Isn’t it amazing when a friend breezes in and starts again for you? My lovely friend and colleague cleared my desktop on my computer in about five minutes flat, helping me see a way through the clutter of files. I’ve had moments of crisis when I feel I can’t cope but as soon as someone steps in to help, pray or reassure, things usually get better.

By Genesis 6, God’s perfect world was so corrupt, he had to start again.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Genesis 6: 11-13

Starting again has to be a good thing.  Even God choose to need community and friendship to help him start again.  The Bible tells us that ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God’.  Noah sounds like someone worth knowing.  God partnered with Noah and entrusted him with building the ark, gathering the animals and protecting each living thing. God knew we would mess things up again but he still wanted to start again.

I was inspired to reread Genesis because I wanted to start again with my Bible reading routine. I know I’ll mess it up again, but it seems fitting that the book I always start again with is a book of new beginnings.  So maybe over the summer, there’s something you can start again on.  Yes, you’ll mess up but there will hopefully be some close friend or sibling ready to elbow you in the ribs when you’re doing it. Together you can fudge it and carry on but it’s better than giving up.  And the mess you made isn’t wasted – ironically, I actually had to start all over again on this article because the website somehow lost it! In the time it’s taken for me to sit down and rewrite it, I’ve experienced a friend come over and pray for me the exact thing I needed even though I didn’t know I needed it!  By walking across the room to do this, she was petitioning Jesus to help me start again with something that was weighing down on me.  Her obedience reminded me just how important others are in this journey.

Your mess-up will help others to feel validated; your failure is what makes you human.  Starting over again and again, is what the story of God’s people is all about.  So don’t be disheartened.  Get a friend to help you, or be a friend to help someone else.  And if you haven’t done so yet, speak to Jesus and ask him if you can start again, please.  Unlike the steely-eyed adjudicator 30 years ago, He won’t make you feel like you’re taking liberties by asking.  Jesus is ready and waiting for you to start again.

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