Do you believe life is full of new beginnings? I do! Writing the first story of a new year and sharing how God opens doors for new beginnings brings joy to my heart for many reasons.
First, it is the beginning of a new calendar year with people all over the world celebrating and sharing New Year wishes and resolutions. This first week of 2013 finds people reflecting on the past year, forging forward in faith, and doing things differently. What will you do differently in 2013? Will new beginnings offer gifts you never dreamed of coming your way?
A new beginning is a gift of hope which often goes unopened for various reasons. At the dawning of a new year, many people are trapped in situations that steal joy and smother hope. Do you feel hopeful or helpless as a new year begins? Each person reading this story has experienced new beginnings with wonder. Waiting on the Lord with courage and confidence that He will strengthen hearts, homes, and change headlines is an anchor of hope for believers. It is our choice to untie the ribbons on gifts of hope and help that God sends our way. Whatever your situation, whether it be filled with tragedy, triumph, trials or tears, give God the reins and trust Him completely to work all things out for good, according to His purpose for your life.
Next, this year brings a new beginning for me that I never prayer for or dreamed of in this season of my life. This new beginning is a gift from God I wouldn’t open for a long time, reasoning it wasn’t what I needed or wanted in my life. When Tim was given God’s greatest healing from cancer – heaven, and I was given healing – here - from cancer in the same year (2007), Christ became my cornerstone, confidant, and closest friend. I committed my life completely to loving and serving Him. My prayers were for protection, blessings, and enlarging my territory so I could help others, encourage people to cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones, and give God the glory for loving and healing me.
God heard my prayers and similar prayers from a man I had never met, James Vann. James grew up and lived his life in the same community where I grew up and lived most of my life, but we never knew one another. He married the love of his life also and spent 38 years loving her and his two daughters, Kelly and Tina. James’ wife, Sarah, was healed to heaven after battling cancer for a short season in 2009, breaking his heart and dreams into pieces. He prayed for peace and promise. In his brokenness, he realized he couldn’t handle it by himself anymore. While listening to The Marksmen sing a song about grace, James gave it all to Jesus, asking Him for guidance, someone to help, and happiness to come back into his life.
God heard our prayers and sent divine signs – from dreams to dragonflies - that we would come to understand in His time. He was preparing our hearts to love again, sending a new beginning for me and a man - handpicked from heaven - who was right down the street. James spent his days working at Piggly Wiggly, while I worked within hollering distance at Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station. Neither of us knew the plans God had for our lives and couldn’t see how He was working all things out to bring good from the bad, but our hearts were right with Him and ready for a new beginning.
God gave James and me a gift we were willing to open and grateful to receive — a new beginning as husband and wife. It would have been easy to turn His gift away, choosing to live in despair and dwell on sorrow and sadness the rest of our lives. When we distance ourselves from God and don’t open the gifts He gives, we lose blessings for ourselves and others that He plans for us to reach out and share sunshine with along our way.
Has God given gifts you have refused or neglected to open? I encourage you to untie the ribbons and enjoy His gifts of goodness. You may be stuck in situations that look hopeless in man’s eyes, but with God all things are possible. New beginnings are beautiful blessings from a Father watching and waiting for us to accept in faith. Being closely connected and cherishing time spent with the Lord and loved ones are the greatest gifts on earth. Please don’t mess around and miss them or abuse them. Invite Jesus into your heart, experience His love, and enjoy a good life here and hereafter…forever and ever.
Finally, James and I are grateful for God’s gift of love, a new beginning in our lives. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving: to our Father for this miracle of love – a new chapter we will write together, to our families for walking with us through seasons of sadness and sunshine, and to our friends for supporting us as we step in faith to the plans He has for our lives.
Tomorrow James and I will say ‘I do’ and begin the sunset years of our lives together as man and wife. We invite you to share our special day with us at First Baptist Church, 408 College St., at 2 p.m. Our celebration of holy matrimony will be a time of praise and worship to honor God our Father – the giver of life, love, and new beginnings.