With this year’s University of Michigan spring football practice, there is a turning of the page. Gone is Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense and in its place is a new scheme—Brady Hoke’s scheme. For the Michigan fans who were unhappy with the Rodriguez regime, this feels like a fresh start for Michigan football, but for the fans who felt that the program was on the verge of great success, it just feels like starting over—again. That can be discouraging and frustrating when it seem that for every three steps forward you take, you end up taking two steps back. Sometimes we face those kinds of restarts in life as well. Often they are unwanted restarts due to a loss of a job or a marriage or personal health or an almost endless variety of life-altering situations that force us to find a way to start over. In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, a young man had to start over because he had wasted all of his inheritance. That restart took place in a job no Jewish individual would ever want—feeding swine (Luke 15). But when all seemed lost, he pursued yet anther restart—as a servant in his father’s house (vv.8-19). When he returned home, however, he found in his father’s compassion something far greater than a restart—he found restoration. He found grace. In his father’s greeting:

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

When we face the unwelcome restarts of life, we too have a Father whose compassion never fails. His grace and mercy are always the best place to start when starting over is the only option we have left. Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we take a further look at the challenges of starting over. Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain