START­ING OVER

Activated - - NEWS - By Ch­eryl Madi­son Ch­eryl Madi­son is a pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant in Canada.

My hus­band and I moved to Canada a few years ago af­ter 30 years abroad. Dur­ing those years, I had lived, worked, and trav­eled through­out the Amer­i­cas with­out ever re­turn­ing to the place of my birth for any length of time.

The repa­tri­a­tion process was a bit of a cul­ture shock, though I quickly came to love liv­ing in a coun­try that em­braces di­ver­sity and wel­comes im­mi­grants from around the world, cre­at­ing a racial and eth­nic mix­ture that ex­udes tol­er­ance and teaches pa­tience for the many peo­ple try­ing to find their way, learn a new lan­guage, and adapt to a new cul­ture. It brought home the re­al­iza­tion that our planet is full of peo­ple re­build­ing their lives, search­ing for new homes, learn­ing new lan­guages and trades, and start­ing over from scratch. A phe­nom­e­non that has in­creased in mod­ern times, yet God cre­ated hu­mankind with the ver­sa­til­ity to start over.

While re­ceiv­ing some med­i­cal tests, I struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with the ra­di­ol­o­gist, a pleas­ant, kind woman with a pa­tient de­meanor, who shared her story with me. She was born and stud­ied medicine in the Soviet Union. Af­ter the fall of com­mu­nism, she im­mi­grated to Is­rael, where she dis­cov­ered that she would have to re­peat most of her med­i­cal train­ing if she wished to prac­tice in Is­rael. Feel­ing called to be a pe­di­a­tri­cian, she re­peated eight la­bo­ri­ous years of med­i­cal train­ing and once again took up the prac­tice. Life did not turn out as planned for her and her fam­ily in Is­rael, so they im­mi­grated again to Canada. Once again, she dis­cov­ered that she would have to en­dure some eight years of med­i­cal train­ing if she wished to prac­tice. At that point, she gave up her med­i­cal prac­tice and be­came a ra­di­ol­o­gist, as she felt that now that she had chil­dren of her own, it wasn’t pos­si­ble to re­peat the train­ing.

As she shared her life story, she did so with cheer­ful­ness and with­out com­plaint. She had as­sessed her op­tions, redi­rected her plans, and started over from scratch. I am sure her cheer­ful­ness and pa­tience were hard-earned, and I ex­pressed my ap­pre­ci­a­tion to her, which brought a smile to her face.

Cer­tainly, start­ing over dur­ing mid-life is not an en­vi­able po­si­tion. But many peo­ple to­day face this re­al­ity. It seems that there are few ca­reers that come with a “guar­an­teed for life” sticker, and in to­day’s world, ver­sa­til­ity and adapt­abil­ity are paramount. Thank­fully, those are qual­i­ties that God’s Word has al­ways ad­vised Chris­tians to hone, as the fol­low­ing Bi­ble pas­sage brought home to me:

“There is a time for ev­ery­thing, and a sea­son for ev­ery ac­tiv­ity un­der the heav­ens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to up­root, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scat­ter stones and a time to gather them, a time to em­brace and a time to re­frain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak. [God] has made ev­ery­thing beau­ti­ful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they can­not fathom what God has done from be­gin­ning to end. … God does it so that men will re­vere him.”

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The Bi­ble is filled with sto­ries of peo­ple who changed ca­reers, home­lands, or di­rec­tion as God guided them, whether through His di­rect word or through cir­cum­stances. Start­ing over is, in fact, so com­mon in the Bi­ble that it’s dif­fi­cult to think of many of its main char­ac­ters who didn’t have to start over, be­gin­ning with Abra­ham to Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Es­ther, Ruth, Daniel, Je­sus’ dis­ci­ples, Paul, and on the list goes.

Liv­ing in an area of the world where so many peo­ple are first-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants has brought home to me the fact that start­ing over is a fact of life that many peo­ple are fac­ing in to­day’s world, as the dy­nam­ics around them shift and pop­u­la­tions mi­grate and travel the globe in search of bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties and a bet­ter life. They choose to be strangers and pil­grims to pro­vide a bet­ter life for their fam­i­lies and chil­dren, and step out with in­cred­i­ble courage to do so, of­ten with few re­sources and hav­ing to leave be­hind their fam­i­lies, ca­reers, and cre­den­tials. They still con­ceive of a fu­ture that is bet­ter, and that makes it worth the risk and the chal­lenges.

As Chris­tians, we are “con­fi­dently look­ing for­ward to a city with eter­nal foun­da­tions; a city de­signed and built by God,” so that “now we live

2 with great ex­pec­ta­tion, and we have a price­less in­her­i­tance … be­yond the reach of change and de­cay. … There is won­der­ful joy ahead, even though you have to en­dure many tri­als for a lit­tle while. Th­ese tri­als will show that your faith is gen­uine.”

3 Start­ing over still looms large, and at times the chal­lenges seem over­whelm­ing. But tak­ing a look around and see­ing the courage of other peo­ple who have crossed land and sea in search of bet­ter cir­cum­stances in this world has served as a con­fi­dence­booster that God never puts us in a po­si­tion where we can’t grow and ex­pand and “run with en­durance the race He has set be­fore us, keep­ing our eyes on Je­sus, our cham­pion who ini­ti­ates and per­fects our faith.”

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1. Ec­cle­si­astes 3:1–7,11,14 NIV 2. He­brews 11:10 NLT 3. 1 Peter 1:3–4,6–7 NLT 4. He­brews 12:1–2 NLT

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