What does it take to get started?

Research papers are not the most fun thing in the world. There is so much work involved, from picking a topic, to trying to find research about that topic, to studying that research, and then to spreading that research out for pages and pages just trying to reach that minimum page requirement set by the prof. Knowing all of the work required to actually finish a research paper, one of the biggest hurdles to cross is actually starting. I’ve found that even opening a new Word doc and putting the title headings for the paper is enough of a small start to get me going on the rest of the paper. It puts an outline, a framework to go with, for the paper and makes it easier to move forward.

Two of the biggest hurdles in life involve actually starting something new, and then actually finishing something off. When something new comes our way, sometimes all the variables and risks and tasks pile up and it becomes a daunting beginning that we put off as long as possible. Sometimes it’s not even a bad thing. Sometimes we are just afraid to take a new step forward and beginning a new journey, so we delay. This can be like delaying to ask your girlfriend to be your wife because you’re afraid of taking that next step and moving toward marriage, even though you want to be married and have a family and be with this person you love for the rest of your life; it can still be a daunting step because of the magnitude of the decision.

Actually finishing something off can be hard because it is the end of an era, the end of a chapter of life. It can be hard to move on from a job because of the people you worked with, the history you have with the company, or the clients you are leaving behind. Or finishing something off could look like moving to a new city or state and leaving behind friends and family (this is an ending and a new beginning all at once).

Beginning and ending. They are hard.

Well, in this 365 Days Free From Fear trek we are on, today focuses on Genesis 46:3-4 where Jacob is getting ready to head to Egypt to reunite with his lost son Joseph. Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers many years before, and rose to prominence in Egypt. Now he is saving the life of his family and has forgiven his brothers and renewed that broken relationship. He invites all his father’s family to come live in Egypt. Before they get there, Jacob has this vision where God says,

“I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

God comforts Jacob and reminds him that God will go with him and he doesn’t have to be afraid to begin this journey. Once he begins this journey, he will reach the end of his “journey” (i.e. life) and his lost son will be there to help bury his father. Beginning this journey will reunite him with his son and will make the family whole again. Before the father dies he will be able to witness this. God gives Jacob comfort and hope so that he can go ahead and start on the journey.

In the same way, when we are facing new beginnings and hard endings, we can remember that God is with us. Even better, when we know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, the Spirit of God lives inside of us and goes with us wherever we go so that we have an even greater realization of God’s presence with us than Jacob and his family did.

Be encouraged and don’t be afraid. We all face new beginnings that are hard to start and endings that are hard to finish, but we can take hope. No matter where we are in this, even somewhere in the middle, we can take courage to know that when we abide in Christ, He is there with us (John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”).

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