I love the end of the month. I love turning over my monthly planner to a fresh page or tearing the top layer off our fridge calendar to reveal a new month underneath. I delight in all those lovely, empty boxes waiting to be filled.
I crumple the paper with a sense of “good riddance” and throw it in the recycle. Every 30 days, I get a second chance, a do-over, and a fresh beginning. We fill our fridge and cupboards with our “big shop” and we start again.
I don’t know about you, but I need that sort of thing. I could probably use it daily, but every month will also do.
Do you ever feel like you could use a do-over or a new start?
There’s nothing quite like it.
We spent almost all of February trapped inside by the polar vortex and had countless days where the forecast said frostbite would happen in minutes. And, feeling rather closed in by my kids and the small space we live in, and homeschooling, I dragged myself through this last week and half of February, desperate for a change.
But, just this week, I realized that it was the end of the month. I could turn the page and start anew. And it was just the breath of fresh air I needed.
I need these sort of moments, and maybe you do too. The chance to try again. The chance to do that thing you forgot to do, finish that project, work on a new habit, spend time with your kids or spouse, another chance to ask for forgiveness or say you are sorry, a chance to make things right.
As I turned over to the next month, I felt so thankful that God is in the business of starting again. That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in the business of renewal, making things fresh, and second chances.
I felt thankful for grace.
The older I get, the more I realize how much grace I need. How many second chances and thritieth chances and one hundredth chances have I received from God? I have needed every single one of them and need every single one that is in the future.
I need grace.
Grace like the end of the month moving to a new one, grace like the first morning of a new year, grace like the first day of the school year. Grace where everything feels fresh.
It can be so hard to grab on to, to accept. It does not always erase the memory of the difficulty, the sin, or the pain.
But, grace is an invitation forward into something else, something better. It is a chance to start again, not necessarily start over but to start again.
Grace is new life and fresh air. And it is available to each of us from the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection began the great redemption of the world. His work on earth allowed for all of creation: humankind, plants, animals, air, sky, universe to begin to be redeemed, set right, restored, and made new. The trajectory of this redemptive work is forward and it is a work that is being done in each of us.
G. K Chesterton describes that first moment of Jesus’ resurrection like this,
“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth, and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn." (The Everlasting Man)
Everything about Jesus’ life on earth is about a new era, a new covenant, a new way to the Father, death of sin’s grasp on humanity and the beginning of a new life. The movement from here is forward, into the dawning day of Christ’s glorious reign, towards the great city of God. And grace lives here, in this new day, for each of us, over and over again.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul writes this beautiful passage, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17) And, later, in Chapter 5, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You are a new creation and I am a new creation. It might not always feel that way but it is true and a great scheme of evil when we forget that we are being made new by Jesus. God is renewing us day by day. This is grace, this is the work of Jesus. This is the work of redemption.
Desperate for an opportunity to start again? Jesus is waiting.
Wishing you could begin fresh? Jesus is able.
Wanting a chance to make something right? Jesus has already done the work.
There is a chance to start again every day, a chance to step into the new that is here by the work of Jesus and move forward. Everyday there is an opportunity to be invited forward by grace.
My end of the month joy is actually happening every day in my own life. So many days, I am not aware of it and the redemption seems painstakingly slow. But everyonce in a while I catch a small glimpse, I am able to understand - even minutely - about the grace that Jesus has for me and it strikes me to the heart and, often through tears, I cannot say anything other than “Thank you”. Thank you for this second chance, for the opportunity to start again, for inviting me forward into what you have for me. The old has gone, the new is here!
I will leave you with one of Paul’s benedictions,
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
(2 Thes 2:16-17)