Isaiah 43: 19: See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)
I have the distinct honor and privilege to serve on the board of directors of a faith-based agency in my community. One of the agency’s programs is called Fresh Start.
The men who are clients at Fresh Start have the opportunity to become part of a transitional landscaping work crew that maintains commercial and residential properties in the community. Working for Fresh Start allows the clients to earn a salary and gain valuable work experience, which often leads to further employment – and in some cases, to begin all over again!
What is most phenomenal about Fresh Start is that the clients it employs are part of “Open ARM,” which is the Day Center for homeless men in our community! Many of the clients have no job, no substantive job history, and often, few developed work skills. Yet, they have the God-given ability to hope and dream of a new beginning, and through this amazing program they are given the opportunity to pursue the dream of a meaningful job which provides a regular paycheck, as well as the “integrity found in a week’s work” (http://www.areareliefministries.org/services/homeless-and-housing/fresh-start/, 2014).
At this time of year, many of us also may need a “fresh start,” which may mean beginning a new day and/or life season, or finding balance in a very busy life. Just as God has provided a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland for our “Fresh Start” employees, He does the same for us as we pour our hearts into our clients and students. Although our “fresh starts” may not be as life changing as those for the “Fresh Start” employees, our beginnings, new seasons, and balance-finding can be as challenging – and sometimes, as scary. That is because in seeking our own fresh starts, we sometimes extend a great amount of energy, and often become over-extended, which further complicates our ability to be renewed!
The good news is that when we take the time to find times of rest and reflection, we realize that our energies, creativity, inspiration and dedication return! God gives new mercies every morning, for great is His faithfulness to us (Lamentations 3:23, NIV). In return, we become renewed, and our clients and students benefit, as well as our families and friends!
As we begin again in new days, seasons, and/or balance-finding, may we find strength, wisdom courage, and renewed dedication in the overflow to serve our clients and students well!
Rhonda is a professor and acting BSW Director in the School of Social Work at Union University, in Jackson, TN. She teaches several courses in the curriculum, including HBSE I & II, and Research & Statistical Methods. She formerly worked with HIV+ clients in Miami, FL before earning her PhD, and serving in academia. She is mom of three young men, Percy, Ronald and Ryan.