In recent weeks, the San Francisco 49ers (Jim Harbaugh), Cleveland Browns (Pat Shurmur), Carolina Panthers (Ron Rivera), and Denver Broncos (John Fox) have introduced new head coaches. In a sense, it represents a fresh start for each of these once-proud franchises that have fallen far from the heights of the NFL’s elite. In another sense, however, for the weary fans of those teams who have been worn down by ineptitude, loss, and games where their teams seemed to not even have a chance it is also like starting over. And that isn’t easy. Sometimes it means new coaching staffs including new coordinators with new systems that require new players and, most of all, enough time for the longed-for, desperately-hoped-for turnaround that will take their beloved teams back to competitiveness and relevancy. Starting over just means another long season of struggle to try and get good again. Starting over is hard.
Many in our country have experienced their own restarts in recent years due to the economy. Unwanted career changes bring their own challenges. Still others have had to try again at life after a failed marriage or a health setback. In all of these cases, starting over may sound like a new hope, but it comes with the rugged reality of effort and pain and potential failure. So what do we do when we are forced to start over? We recognize that we serve a God who understands what it takes to start over. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John witnessed the new heavens and the new earth—a place no longer marked by tears and suffering, darkness and loss. A place created by God as the most magnificent fresh start imaginable. Of this God, John writes:
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev.21:5)
He makes all things new, including us (2 Corinthians 5:17). He knows what it takes, and can help us when we are faced with starting over. Our responsibility is to trust Him with the uncertainties of starting over.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain