Lucky for us, God loves restarts
Do you need a restart? I think we all reach points in life where we need a clean slate. There have been so many times in my life where my sin, guilt and mistakes have caused so much damage and have felt so crushing that I start to feel there is no way out. What I have learned is that these points are not the end of me – they are turning points. They are times in my life when God is guiding me toward a new beginning. Restarts come from these turning points in our lives – points where we have to decide what is most important to us, what we really believe, where we have turned away and ultimately to turn back to God.
Luckily, God loves restarts. He loves them because they require us to turn to him; no matter how hard we try, how much we deny, or how far we’ve gone, we can’t get restarts without God. I’ve found that God will never allow my heart to stay far away from him, so he is always working to guide me back to him. Sometimes, he does this by allowing me to get to the point where I really see that what God wants is better than what I wanted. This is the beginning of a turning point – when I begin to desire what God wants more than what I want.
I think God also loves giving us restarts because they not only help us, but they also inspire people around us to turn to him. When other people see what God can do in our lives, they get hope that he can do the same for them!
Maybe you need a restart in marriage, a new beginning in parenting, or a do-over in friendships.
God will always give restarts in the areas we need them. In the book of Isaiah, the people of Israel needed a restart in their relationship with God. They had reached a turning point, and God gave them three steps to take to return to him:
“Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see.”
Isaiah 62:10 NLT
In this scripture there are 3 things God calls us to do if we want to have a restart – smooth out the road (with faith), pull out the boulders (with prayer), and raise a flag (with purpose) for all to see. Let’s look at how to take these three steps toward your own spiritual restart:
1. Smooth Out The Road – With Faith
And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world . You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
1 Peter 1:5-9
There are many trials we need to go through in life, faith is what smooths out the road and makes travel much easier. Too many times in my life, when trials come, my fear grips me. My fear actually makes the road more rough, and way more difficult. Fear makes us more overwhelmed, more focused on worst-case scenarios, and more mistrustful of people who try to help us. Faith helps us see beyond the bumps, heartaches, disappointments, sins and fears. Faith enables us to keep going, because we see God not our circumstances.
There are three specific ways faith paves the road before me. I call these “Faith-pavers”:
- Faith believes God is good (Hebrews 11:6). When I believe God is good and wants to reward me, I can endure bumps in the road and trust that good will come from them.
- Faith enables God to show me the bigger picture (Hebrews 11:1), so I don’t get stuck on only what I can see at this moment.
- Faith knows adversity will make me stronger (Romans 5:3-5).
Which of these faith-pavers do you need most in your life? Which is hardest for you? Choose to memorize a scripture that helps you believe in that area so that when obstacles come up in your path your faith smooths them out.
2. Pull Out The Boulders – Through Prayer
“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer!”
Job 11:13 NLT
Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.”
1 Samuel 1:10-11
“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD. Give the LORD no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.”
Isaiah 62:6-7 NLT
Prayer is the only thing that pull out the boulders that are preventing us from changing and growing. What are your boulders? Here are some of mine:
Boulder of unbelief
- I’ve tried to change, but I never do.
- I’ll never be fruitful, it’s been too long
- God is tired of my sin. He no longer has a plan for my life.
Boulder of fear
- What if’s – what if my kids never become Christians, what if I’m open with this sin and people distance themselves from me? What if the special needs in my home get worse? What if people become critical of my kids?
Boulder of mistrust
- Why did they say that to me? Why did she look at me that way?
- I can’t share what I really feel or what I really think to my spouse, he won’t understand.
Boulder of selfishness
- Conversations become more about blaming than listening.
- Your life is driven by “self” sins: self-righteous, self-consumed, self-piteous (“Why is this happening to me? How does this make me look?”)
Prayer is powerful, and the Bible promises that if we will pray continually God will move. How hard have you been praying for God to remove these boulders from your heart? Decide to pray daily for God to remove one of these boulders from your heart and don’t quit until you see him changing your heart.
3. Raise The Flag – With Purpose
“Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.””
Isaiah 62:1-2, 12 NLT
Once the road is smooth and the boulders are excavated, God raises a flag for all to see. This means that everything we go through in life, the good and the difficult, is there for God to use to show people how great he is. I have discovered that If I don’t hide in the middle of difficulty, and don’t isolate in times of challenge, but rather allow others to see my weakness and share the process of how God is helping me, my life can be a “flag” God uses to give others hope.
We all need a restart at some point in our lives. We now have three essential steps to change. But, don’t stop here. As a practical, find characters in the scriptures who had their own restart. How did Ruth turn her life around in the face of deep personal tragedy? What made Esther rise from obscurity and fear? How did Hannah find faith in her time of discouragement? Your restart can begin now!