February 23, 2012

Feb. 23: Fresh start

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By Jeff Hochstetler, manager of the student apartments
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 9:8-17 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.
DEVOTIONAL:
My legs ached from the piston-like movement that they had been repeating the last several hours. Pulling over to a rest stop for a much-needed break, I wondered to my friend Nate, “Did we bite off more than we could chew?”

It was the first of seven days in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a week-long bike ride across the state. Nate and I had been looking forward to it all summer and were determined to do the whole ride from the banks of the Missouri River in Glenwood to the waters of the Mississippi River in Davenport.

To make the starting date, I had left from a wedding in Cleveland late Saturday night, picked up Nate in Chicago and drove through to the western edge of Iowa by Sunday afternoon. Other riders had started at 10 a.m.; we started at 2:30 p.m.

Taking only one energy bar a piece, we got off to a wobbly start. Fifteen miles in, we had consumed all of our water and had to stop and refill. Somewhere around 35 miles, we lost the bike route. Increasingly frustrated, we eventually found the route again and pedaled on.

By the time we rolled into the host town for the night it was getting dark. Exhausted and hungry, we lumbered to the church that had opened its doors to cyclists. Too tired to put up our tent, we crashed in the church’s cool basement. I had never slept so soundly. When I woke up the next morning, I felt well rested and energized to ride the next 65 miles. Though my legs were sore, I was eager to get back on my bike and continue our journey.

In the Genesis account for today, we find God starting anew. Out of a creation in rebellion, God decides to start over with Noah and his family. Waters cover the world. But out of such work is born a covenant. God makes a promise to all of creation never to flood the whole earth again.

I have often experienced the Lenten season as a time of giving up. In the past, I have given up things in my life that I felt distracted me from God. How refreshing to think that instead of having to give something up this Lent, we get to start anew!

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 9:8-17 (NRSV)
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

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Comments (18)

  1. Great perspective and inspiration! Thanks, Jeff!

    Joyce February 23, 2012 |
  2. What an encouraging way to approach Lent! We do get to start anew with God every morning. Life is a gift!
    Thanks for sharing about your trip.

    Ruth February 23, 2012 |
  3. I appreciate your sharing. It was good for me to review the Noah story. The rainbow is a beautiful symbol,

    Mary K. February 23, 2012 |
  4. I like this perspective and the imagery of your bike tour. I always give up something however at Lent, but not to “self-sacrifice”. I do it so that I can focus more easily on my journey and put away some of the many distractions that bombard us! This year, it’s facebook :)

    Heather February 23, 2012 |
  5. Thank you for a wonderful reminder of a fresh start. I have always given something up during Lent only to thankfully pick it back up again after Easter. This year I decided to take your approach and begin a new practice.

    Beth S February 23, 2012 |
  6. Praise God for new beginnings!

    Tamara February 23, 2012 |
  7. :o) Amen! Well said, written :o)

    ANI February 23, 2012 |
  8. thanks, Jeff. I’m in my 11th year of Lyme disease and every encouragement to keep going and let the Lord refresh me is welcome. A holy and hope-filled Lent to you and all who read these sweet thoughts.

    Mary February 23, 2012 |
  9. Thank you, Jeff! A great and helpful perspective.

    Jim Miller (James N. '53) February 23, 2012 |
  10. Wonderful reminder that everyday is the Lord’s and a new one to rejoice in.

    Patricia February 23, 2012 |
  11. “Fresh as the morning, sure as the sunrise, God always faithful…” Thanks for your encouraging, positive words Jeff!

    Kay Shue February 23, 2012 |
  12. Thanks for your comments, Jeff. I like the idea of “a new start.”

    Florence Nussbaum February 23, 2012 |
  13. A” new start” is a wonderful perspective for Lent. For those who experiences 4 seasons, we get to experience the miracle of a “new start” every Spring as all the hardy flowers, plants and trees begin “a new start”. God is the giver of all life.

    Phyllis February 24, 2012 |
  14. Thank you! At a time when I feel I have made many mistakes, the idea of an opportunity to start anew is just what I need to hear.

    Elizabeth S.O. February 24, 2012 |
  15. Fresh new words, Jeff. Thanks. Start again with something beautiful…like a rainbow.

    Joe Jaime February 24, 2012 |
  16. Did you finish the ride?

    Barb February 24, 2012 |
  17. Wonderfully written, refreshing, excellent commentary. The idea of a “new beginning” truly resonates. I always felt guilty when I didn’t give up something for Lent. (You need to pursue more writing, if you don’t already!)

    Elaine February 25, 2012 |
  18. Barb, we did finish the ride! By the end of the week we had logged 474 miles.

    Jeff February 26, 2012 |