If you’d been walking down a certain narrow shopping street in London’s West End twenty years ago, you’d have seen a bright orange sign on the wall, which declared in bold, black letters: “Dare to be Different!” The sign was an encouragement not to follow the crowd in ignoring the spiritual side of life, but to be bold enough to get to know your Creator whatever other people think. The sign had been put there by a friend of mine whose life had been transformed when he came to know God in a personal way. For years he had communicated with spirits through occult activities such as a ouija board and astral travel etc., which had led to nothing but disillusionment. But when he asked Jesus for forgiveness and new life, “the sense of peace, acceptance and joy that filled me was indescribable,” he said. “It felt as if a weight had fallen off my shoulders. I knew I had found the Lord at last, and He had found me.”
Recently ITV News ran a story on someone else whose spiritual awakening brought about a dramatic change of direction. King Eardwulf was king of Northumbria until he was deposed in 806 AD. He left his throne to live the life of a hermit in a Derbyshire cave; becoming known as Saint Hardulph. His life of relative luxury had come crashing down, causing him to recognise what was most important in life, i.e. getting to know his Creator and preparing for eternity. He died around 830 AD.
Of course, living in a cave is not on everyone’s wishlist these days, but a new start is something that many people hope for. On the other hand, a new job or a new place to live may sound great, but sometimes it’s our own inner struggles that we need help with, our inner-self that needs to be healed. Thankfully Jesus’s invitation still holds true today:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
As we gradually emerge from the pandemic, we are stepping out into a new world with new uncertainties, but now is the perfect time for a new start, and whatever we go through we know that our Creator is always there for us. Daring to be different takes courage, but it’s worth it when the prize is eternal life.
As Jim Elliot famously said:
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”