Fresh starts

Today’s guest blog is written by Kim Shippey, avid reader of books and articles on spirituality, and Boston-based writer and editor. You can also read his columns in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly print and online publication.

Many of you will know the story about one of the America’s top violinists, Joshua Bell, who on a cold morning in January 2007 played some intricate Bach variations on his 3.5 million Stradivarius on a railway station platform in Washington, DC. In 45 minutes, only six people stopped long enough to drop a total of $32 into his violin case. Two nights before, Bell had filled a Boston concert hall, with seats averaging $100.

Even more remarkable–and helpful to me–were Bell’s remarks in a January 2012 issue of Newsweek magazine in which he described his performance as a 12-year-old in his first violin competition. He messed up worse than he could even have imagined. Not knowing the etiquette, he stopped completely, turned to the audience and said, “I’d really like to start over.” He just wanted to redeem himself.

Feeling liberated by the knowledge that he’d already lost the competition, and now completely relaxed, he went on to play better than he’d ever done in his life, and took third place. He went back the following year and won first prize! “It taught me,” Bell said, “that when you take your mind off worrying about being perfect all the time, sometimes amazing things can happen.”

The lessons may be obvious. We all make mistakes. Own up, and ask for an opportunity to redeem yourself, regardless of established norms.

But we can take this further in the spiritual  aspects of our daily lives, paying regard to some of the Bible’s guides on persistence and fresh starts, including this one: “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3, New Living Translation).

Doesn’t this also mean that we don’t have to live with present or past labels of disease or lack?  We can instead prayerfully rest in the knowledge that “Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind” (Isaiah 40, The Message).

So with all that strength and that widened wingspan, there are no limits to our achievement of good–in the artistic, sporting, educational, inspirational, and healing aspects of our lives.

As Bell found out on that icy railway platform, we don’t run (or earn, or find true satisfaction) on reputation alone, but through our unselfish commitment to bless others by sharing the individual gifts that are “freely given to us of God” (I Corinthians 2:12).


  1. Kim Shippey says

    Thank you for your comments. I have seen Joshua in action, and hear him in live concert radio broadcasts. Every note he plays seems freshly inspired to me! We are privileged to have him in our midst.

  2. Sharla Allard says

    Yeah, and it seems to me that trying to do something perfectly has a little too much “me” in it. Am I doing it for the glory of me? Whereas if I try to do things in my day with the intention of using the talents God gave me, I’ll be glorifying Him. God gets credit for the win and I get the satisfaction! And I’m freed from the stress and fear of disapproval that comes from doing things all on my own.

  3. Dave says

    Thanks Kim for sharing this.

    Been sorting through some baggage I’ve been holding onto from years ago that has produced some very unpleasant results. From relationships gone bad, to bad decisions that reverberate in one’s head constantly saying, “you’re smarter than that!” It truely is freeing when we realize and remember that our dear Father-Mother God does not see our mistakes, and that each day with God is new! We are not bound to anything negative in the past. I try to remind myself, “it’s in the past…LEAVE IT THERE!

  4. Virginia McCullough says

    Who doesn’t want a fresh start now and again — even daily! It’s so good to hear about the possibilities and the concrete importance of desiring to help others with our God given gifts. That’s a helpful, freeing thought for me today, too. Thank you, Kim.