How to start the year (with a mulligan)

by Kari on January 1, 2013

holiday 2013

I love me a fresh start. As I type these words my poor disheveled house is full of boxes stacked high, walls stripped bare, odds and ends piled (strewn?) on every surface waiting to be sorted. Yes, we just moved. For the 13th time. I distinctly remember telling God (when I was 21-years-old and knew everything) that I could handle a life of flux, change, and adventure. I could even handle marrying a pastor, I had said.

Some days I wish He hadn’t been listening.

The past dozen years have indeed been a life of flux, change, and adventure… and marriage to a pastor. And although sometimes I crave the life of stability and predictability, I wouldn’t trade these years for the world.

Every single move has reminded me of the beauty of a fresh start.

Don’t we all crave a fresh start sometimes? Isn’t that the grace of God’s time-cycle, that every single morning we’re gifted with another chance to start afresh?

A mulligan. Every single day.

You know, a mulligan, right? No, not a pot of stew made from all the random items leftover in your fridge right before you move (although that can be helpful too!). A mulligan is a free shot given to a golfer when the previous shot was poorly played.

A free shot given when the previous shot was poorly played.

Yes, please.

You want one, right? Me too! Did you know God is the original mulligan-giver? He designed His world in such a way that every single day we are gifted with another free shot.

Amazing grace.

His mercies are new every morning. Sorrow lasts for the night but joy comes in the morning. Every morning we are given the glorious gift of a fresh start. And beyond that, every single year we are given another extra-fresh start as we turn the page and find January smiling at us in all her beautifully-blank splendor.

(I want to go sharpen my pencil right now and pull out a clean sheet of notebook paper, just for fun.)

Providence would so have it that this time around we move at the end of the year. That’s right. New day, new year, new house – I’m basically getting a triple-shot venti mulligan. It seems too good to be true.

Now, in case you have visions of me moving into a mansion, allow me to clarify. Part of our journey has been series of down-sizes, as God changes our hearts and strips us of the idols and comforts to which we clung dearly for so long. We have far to go, but in an effort to grow away from the trap of the American dream and toward the life of generosity and grace, we’ll be house-sharing a bungalow built in 1906.

The term “new house” is used loosely in our case.

But it is a fresh start just the same, and for that I’m grateful. Because in my own life a poor shot is played more often than not, and I’m desperate for the grace-mulligan in any measure. I’ll take a do-over any day. You too?

And this is where we start.

Whatever debris was in your yesteryear, start with a mulligan.

Whatever you botched, start with a mulligan.

Whatever you said that you can’t take back, start with a mulligan.

Whatever ongoing struggle you have battled for so long you can’t even remember what freedom looks like, start with a mulligan.

Whatever heaviness has plagued your heart day after wearying day, start with a mulligan.

See, whatever baggage you bring to the table (and we all bring some!), we all need a fresh start. And only Christ, by His infinite grace, can grant mulligans. I can’t give you one. You can’t give yourself one. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to forgive yourself. The rules don’t work like that.

 Only Christ can grant you the grace-mulligan that will set you free today. That will unbind your heart and enable you to move forward. Because if we are to truly live lives of victory, wholeness, and joy, we must first receive the free gift of a fresh start. Now.

That’s where to start this year.

Stop right now, and wherever you are, bow your heart and with all earnestness ask the God of mercy to grant you His forgiveness and gift you with a grace-mulligan, a divine do-over right now. Instead of making promises to Him, that you’ll do better or try harder, ask Him to do His work in you as you journey through this year. Ask Him to teach you, ask Him to lead you into victory, wholeness, and joy. Believe you have what you’ve asked. That’s where to start.

 {Thank you Pastor Joel, for the grace-mulligan years ago in a sermon. It’s stuck with me ever since! Thanks, all for reading. Happy New Year!}