Good Beginnings-Good Endings
Sunrise at Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Maine
Whether it is the dawning of a new day or the emergence of a beautiful, new life, a good beginning may increase the chance for a full, meaningful day or purposeful life but does not guarantee either. One fragile moment or one wrong step may change the trajectory of life forever.
Country music star Roy Clark expressed the hazards of a self absorbed life style in his 1969 song, “Yesterday when I was young” : “I never stopped to think what life was all about/And every conversation I can now recall/Concerns itself with me and nothing else at all.”
We have all experienced that need to define and prove and express our unique individualities and to live as we want without much consideration for others or their counsel. Wise mentors encourage us to be generous, consider end goals, and warn us about leading wasteful lives that end with regrets. Often we believe that means living emotionally and physically healthy lives, being financially independent, and feeling fulfilled and happy, but many times in our search, we ignore ultimate realities and the care of our souls.
Some might disagree with this concept of man’s nature and may ignore or disbelieve the theological fact that we are embodied souls and that our physical bodies are not who we are but are created to sense the glorious material world about us. They enable us to interpret and respond to our circumstances in physically, intellectually, emotionally, and morally appropriate ways.
When we focus on the material world of pleasures and comfort rather than nourishing our created purpose for knowing God and honoring Him in our relationships, we minimize our humanity and regretfully miss the mark of how to live an optimum soul life.
Ancient Scripture provides answers on how to live without regret. Consideration of the moral code will verify that. If we honor God with belief and trust, with awe and loving, respectful, righteous living and treat our neighbors honestly and justly and love them as we love ourselves then hostilities would cease, violence would abate, hatred would vanish and we would live in understanding and peace. Christ’s first big teaching session explored the fact that the root meaning of the Law is about who we are and not what we do. He explained the character traits that lead to a flourishing spiritual life and ended his sermon by saying, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. ..But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.” (Deuteronomy 4:40) (Proverbs 3:1-2) (Proverbs 10:27) (Ephesians 6:2-3)(1 Peter 3:10) (Matthew 7:24-27)
If these sayings are true, they are worth investigating and building healthy minds and spirits which function within the purposes of God. Although there are no guaranteed outcomes, it would seem important to not only give children love, good values, encouragement, and opportunities but also to expose them to a belief system which includes God so that their lament will not be that of Clark’s lyrics: “Yesterday when I was young, The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned/ I always built to last on weak and shifting sand. I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day/ And only now I see how the years ran away.”
Fortunately life need not end as the song does: “There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung/I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue/ The time has come for me to pay /for Yesterday when I was young…
We all fall short of perfection, but despite our folly and sometimes awful regrets, God understands our frailties and lovingly extends grace and mercy to us. He identifies with us. He experienced humanity’s physical and soul suffering through Christ, who in perfection and an incomprehensible, sacrificial, loving act paid for our imperfections, our moral failures, our sins by dying for us so that we can be forgiven and was resurrected so that we can have eternal hope when we believe. It is by trust alone that we are reconciled with God. (Romans 5:8)
Regret need not be our final lament. We all will have things we wish we had done or said differently, but trusting God who loves us enough to give us a new beginning in which lie daily mercies gives us purpose and the promise of a great ending.