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January 7, 2022

Starts and Ends

By Mike Price

Many times over the craziness of the past two years – and as I face a brand new one – I’ve found myself considering the concept of time. How we, as individuals, move forward. We live our lives a year, a day, a moment at a time. Able to enjoy our experiences, but unable to stop them from happening. Able to recount what we’ve been through, but unable to relive it. For better or for worse.

This song is one that comforts my soul as I remind myself that our God stands outside of time. Scripture calls Him the “Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 21:6). He is the beginning and the end. He is there when our hearts are awakened to Him, and He will be there at the end of all things when we are forever glorified in His presence. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of these lyrics.

Starts and Ends by Hillsong UNITED

My soul thirsts for things I can’t explain
In my bones a beckoning to pray
If my heart is a battleground
My defenses run both ways
The flesh is a beggar and thief
But there is a Spirit-man awakening me

Salvation is a beautiful gift. Resurrection is simply unfathomable. Dry bones coming to life. It’s impossible, yet it’s where we are. That which was dead has been quickened to a pulsating lifeblood once again. A mysterious longing in our souls fulfilled by the only One who could satiate it. Jesus Christ, our promised “Spirit-man.” Our flesh betrays us daily, but Christ.

When real life and peace won’t make amends
When all these starts
Start feeling like these ends
Like the world is unravelling
And I’m bound to come undone
There is a Shepherd, a Priest
There is a Comforter who comforts me

Ever feel like you’re stuck at square one? Despite all your best efforts, everything feels in disarray. Unravelling. Your most clearly defined plans are just rubble. In this space is where we find the truest peace. Not of ourselves. Or our accomplishments. Our peace comes from a Comforter who walks with us through the troubles and trials of this world. He leads us beside still waters. He stands in our place on our behalf. When it’s broken and shattered, He gently restores our soul.

And my soul finds rest
Where it makes no sense
There the blood sets me free

All my old regrets
All my brokenness
All my failures redeemed

And it feels like grace
Where I stacked my shame
There the Cross stands for me
All the things I’ve done
All the times I’ve run
All my dead ends redeemed

And it looks like hope
Where my heart was broke
And His heart broke for me

Theologians call this transaction the “great exchange.” The grace of God exchanges our sin for Christ’s righteousness. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Despite our best efforts to run, He pursues us. It makes no sense. Our hope is centered on His work on our behalf. Redemption has drawn near to a broken people through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Lay your burden down upon
Down upon Him
Lay your burden down

This is the most repeated phrase in the song. The reason, I think, is because of the weight of the word “burden.” It carries with it so many connotations. An obvious spiritual meaning – our burden of sin has been taken by Christ and forgiven. However, I think it also speaks to our emotional and mental burdens. Past experiences that haunt us. Present circumstances that wear us down. Anxiety, stress, worry, disappointment can all be burdens that we carry. Listen to these words and make them your prayer. He bears our burdens. All of them.

Jesus my rest in peace
My reconciler
You’re my every good thing

My favorite line in the song, simply because of the word “in.” Jesus, my rest IN peace. It’s a traditional statement associated with the end of a person’s life in the middle of a modern worship song. Historically, the Church has used it to wish someone into the eternal peace that is offered by Christ. While it’s true that Jesus is our rest AND peace, here on earth, we find eternal peace in a Kingdom where there will be no tears. No sorrow. Only joy. Only good.

I surrender all
All I’m living for
You’re my every good thing
You’re my amnesty
You’re my split wide sea
You’re my every good thing
All my days and nights
You’re my death to life
You’re the wonder I breathe
You’re my can’t explain
First and last refrain
You’re my every good thing

Surrender should be our response. Every time. Our lives are to be lived for the glory of the One who has bought our freedom. He has delivered us from ourselves. Now, He walks with us. He sustains us. He strengthens us. He continues to rescue us. We display His love to others. We are filled with wonder and joy and we consider the cost He has paid to demonstrate His love.

Jesus is our “every good thing.” He goes before us, He is Immanuel, our God who is with us, He is the good that is ahead.

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