One of the deepest longings in the human heart is the desire to start again, to make a fresh beginning. Such longings are particularly strong as one year gives way to another, but such desires can be experienced at any time.
In our human frailty, we look back on missed opportunities and things left unsaid and undone. We reflect on projects half completed or never even attempted, and we wish that it could be different. We long to make a fresh start, but often people and circumstances can make it difficult to forget the failings of the past and to start again.
In 1810 Governor Lachlan Macquarie of the fledgling colony in New South Wales invited four men to dinner at Government House in Sydney. The four guests were the principal surgeon, D’Arcy Wentworth, and his assistant, William Redfern, Andrew Thompson, a prosperous farmer, and Simeon Lord, a wealthy merchant. The invitation of these men to the Governor’s residence was significant because they had all been transported to Australia as convicts, but they had subsequently been granted a full pardon. In extending this invitation, Governor Macquarie wanted to show that these men were not only pardoned, but that they also enjoyed full rights as citizens.
But not everyone supported the Governor’s policy. One of his most vocal opponents was the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who is known in Australian history as ‘The Flogging Parson’. He believed that the convict stain could never be wiped away and that convicts should never be allowed full civil rights.
The story of Macquarie’s invitation is a beautiful illustration of what God has done for us. His grace not only offers us forgiveness but also the freedom and privileges of being sons and daughters of God. He offers us the potential of a fresh start every day.
The Christian life is a series of new beginnings because God is the God of new beginnings; with Him there is always the chance to start again. That is true because of his character of forgiveness and longsuffering (Micah 7:18-19). It is true also because of his provision and promises, thoughts which are expressed powerfully in a well-known hymn:
“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”
With God no failure is permanent nor is any mistake beyond remedy. We can start again at any time. Because of God’s grace every day can be New Year’s Day.
Pastor David McKibben
Galston Seventh-day Adventist Church