God is the finger on life's rewind button

I, like most men, have an unusual attachment to remote-control devices, particularly with television and VCRs, although it is sometimes easy to confuse the two.

If I have been watching too many movies recorded off the TV, I will try to fast-forward through commercials I am actually watching on digital cable. (This is not only pathetic, but rather embarrassing, as well).

The really fun part about watching taped movies, however, is the ability to rewind back through scenes that either I want to see again, or in which I missed something important the first time around.

Many times I wish that my life had its own rewind button for use any time, on demand. No doubt many of us would like the chance to back up and not say something utterly stupid, to avoid writing that bad check, that wrong turn, car accident or embarrassing mistake.

The older I get, the more I wish I could actually rewind back to several parts of my life and do things completely different the second time around. Of course, that would make the end result (i.e., where I am now) different, as well, so maybe the way things happened is not so bad after all. Is there really a way to go back to “Start” on the game board and just begin all over again?

Still early in a new year, this is actually very possible. Now, you can’t simply go back and erase all your past mistakes or change the outcome of the decisions you made, but you can choose to make a fresh start.

Think of a chalkboard. You can just keep filling up the board and making the same mistakes all over, or you can move the eraser across it, clean the surface and begin over. You can and should take what you have learned with you, but it doesn’t have to occupy your mind or dominate your thinking any longer. The term used in religious circles for this is “forgiveness.”

With God, you always have the chance to start over again, even if you make the same mistakes over and over, because he does forgive over and over. You can approach him with the simple admission that you have blown it and that you want to begin again, and he will gladly stand by your side as you move in a better direction.

I have personally found that except in extreme cases, people seem likely to forgive other people but seldom do the same thing for themselves. When Jesus told us that we should forgive everyone and not hold grudges, he certainly intended for us to extend that same courtesy to ourselves personally. Beating yourself up for past errors doesn’t help you improve, it just discourages you.

Once you have allowed yourself to mentally erase the events of the past, you need to figure out what to fill it with now. Life has a way of carrying us all along with the pressures and stresses of everyday life, and in that context life simply happens; it’s not necessarily all that productive.

Forget resolutions (we all break them anyway), but figure out goals. My advice is to pick one or two and concentrate on those. If you end up reaching them in a few months, so be it. You can always add more later on. Often, most people make the opposite mistake, of trying to take on too much and then quitting before making any real progress.

God can help you dream in such a way as to reach the kind of goals you desire and ultimately that he wants. The greatest thing about falling in line with God’s wishes for you is that he designed you and can also assist you in getting to where you want to be.

After all, in a world where it’s easy to feel small, wouldn’t it feel marvelous to have someone influential, famous and powerful in your life to help you reach your dreams? You do.

And the best part is when you call (in prayer), you won’t get a busy signal, a secretary or voice mail. You go straight to the top.

Now that I think about it, who needs a remote on life when you have the one that created it all to start with?

Joe Rinehart is a Federal Way resident and a former pastor.

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