By Allan C. Oggs Sr.
I do not know when this tragic story had its beginning. Months before, perhaps, something had crept into this woman’s family, something that had broken down the lines of communication. The mutual confidence of husband and wife began to wane. It might have been several months after this that the woman had committed this heinous sin.
Then, again, it could have been the result of just a few moments of lustful passion. Quite suddenly she found herself in the midst of something she could not escape.
Whatever the beginning, the day came when men banged on her door, barged into the house, and told her she must die. Their chests heaving with excitement and passion, they led her away. The Law said she must die; they had come as executioners.
As they led her down the street, shades were raised slightly, and eyes peered out from darkened rooms. Perhaps these people began to say to themselves, “Well, she certainly is not the woman we thought she was. There she goes, under the curse of.death, with the shame of sin on her life.”
They took her out to the place where Jesus was. And everyone realized, as did she, that this was the end.
They were prepared to stone her, as the Law demanded. But first they would use her as a means to trick Jesus into something incriminating.
Before Jesus, these accusers began to wax eloquent. Their language and their threats were aggressive. The air was filled with tension and excitement. In the midst of this throng stood the lonely woman, with head bowed, getting ready to die. This was to be the end of her fling. This was to be the end of the story. In anguish, with eyes closed, she stood, waiting for the stones to begin to fly.
Suddenly everything was quiet. Jesus had simply said to the men, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In moments the crowd had melted away, and Jesus was left alone with the guilty woman. She opened her eyes, and all she could see was a pile of stones.
Jesus asked her, “Woman where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?” She said, “No man, Lord,” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”
Then, in substance, Jesus added these words: “Well, I’m not going to condemn you, either. But I am going to introduce you to something beautiful. You thought this was to be the end of it all, but I want you to get up, to go, and to sin no more. It is not the last day of your life, as you thought, but it is really the first day. This is a new chapter: Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.”
As Rahab stood in her house in Jericho, all eyes were focused on her. It seemed that the foundation of the entire city was shaking, and those with her in the house began to lose confidence—they no longer felt safe. They finally asked her, “Are we all going to die, or were you telling the truth when you said we would be spared? Is this house really safe?”
Rahab answered, “You are safe here. The city is crumbling and falling. Everything is falling at the feet of Jehovah. But be of good cheer. It is the end for those outside this house, but it is only the beginning for me. This day is the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m going to leave this place. The next time you find me, I’ll be in the New Testament.”
His pockets are heavy, and, as he walks, there is a lot of jingling. The back of his neck is red with embarrassment. But if you could read his thoughts, you would come up with something like this: “Listen, fellows, I know you are going to talk about me after I am gone. But when you do, don’t just talk about where I used to be; remember to discuss who you see me with now, and which way I am going from here.” For Zacchaeus, it was the beginning of something new, something beautiful, something exciting. It was the beginning of the rest of his life.
Several months ago the telephone rang at the National Youth Redemption Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Superintendent Dillon was asked, “I wonder if you can help me. We have made contact with a nineteen-year-old boy who has no church home. We found him in jail. He has long hair, and an earring in one ear. He has been on heroin for two years. He has never been to a Pentecostal church, and is not allowed to attend church now. He must either go to the Youth Redemption Center or remain in jail. . Is there something you can do for this boy?”
Yes, there was something we could do. The right contacts were made. Brother Dillon knew exactly how to do it. The young man was brought to Lincoln. When he walked on the campus, something must have ignited a fire inside him. Then one day shortly after this, something whispered in his ear: “Steve, it just might be that this is not the end of the line after all. It might be that this is not just another holding place; perhaps it is a loosening place. Perhaps, instead of this being the end, it is really the beginning. Maybe something real, something lovely, something clean is about to happen to you here in Lincoln, Nebraska.”
Whatever it was, something stirred his heart. Three weeks after going there, he was baptized in Jesus’ name, and filled with the Holy Ghost. So, it was not the end, but it was the beginning of his life.
Several years ago, a woman sat in my office and said to me, “If only I could do it over again.”
I asked her, “If you could only do what over again?”
Her face lit up. You could tell she was in a make-believe world.
She said, “If I could only hold my boy in my lap again. I’d cuddle him in my arms.”
“But if you could do that, what would you do then?” I asked.
“I’d sing to him.” Her face was bright. You could tell that she was enjoying every moment of it.
“Sing?” Tell me what you would sing.”
There she sat, without anything on her lap, but she folded her arms as if she held a baby, and started singing, “Everybody Ought to Go to Sunday School.” And then she sang, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” And then I realized that she was being tricked; she was thinking that she was actually singing to her baby.
I slapped my desk. “Wake up!” You see, her baby boy was twenty years old, and weighed over two hundred pounds. I said, “There’s no need for you to fool yourself. You’re never going to hold him on your lap again. These things that you want so desperately are gone forever—they will never come back.”
It is a trick of the devil to take us into the past, and set us down by all the ships we have watched sink. He would like to dance in our memories, as he parades through our minds all the failures, the disappointments, and the unhappy moments of bygone years.
Satan has a way of telling one that he can’t pray this Wednesday because he missed last Wednesday.
It is the trick of the adversary to involve us in the past. He does not want us to see today. He would rather weave us into a web of depression, despondency and discouragement over what took place yesterday. He would like to take us to the rim of all the canyons of the past, and let us listen to the echoes of our disappointments. He would love nothing better than to see us linger there until we are wilted, deprived and depressed.
If Satan cannot bewilder you with yesterday, he will try to make you dizzy with tomorrow. If he cannot bog you down in the morass of yesterday, he will try to project you into some kind of superficial orbit in the future. The reason? He is afraid of this now business. He is afraid of today.
May God help us to wake up and find that this is not yesterday, or tomorrow, but this is today. It all begins today.
A woman told me, “We’re going to have to just let our son have his way. We’ve tried to control him, but we simply cannot. We’ll have to tell him that it’s up to him whether or not he lives for God.”
“How old is your son?” I asked her.
“He’s ten years old,” she replied.
This crushed me. Only ten years old, and she was ready to quit. He had been a problem last week, so there was nothing she could do today. Last week she had tried to talk to him, and to pray with him, only to fail, so there was nothing she could do now. On the authority of last week, she gave up. Last week said, “Forget it today.”, Last week told her, “It won’t work today.” So she surrendered.
When my wife and I had been married something over a year, Allan, our first child, was born. Six months later, I resigned my job, and began to prepare for fulltime evangelistic work.
My employer asked me, “Son, how much are you going to make in this new position?”
“Well, it may vary a bit,” I replied
“We’ll upgrade your position, and give you a raise. Tell me approximately what you will make preaching.”
I said, “Well, it will be somewhere between 50c and $300 a week.”
He said, in astonishment, “You have lost your mind! You’re crazy!”
I quit on Friday, having one meeting scheduled, to begin on Sunday. On Saturday this meeting was canceled. Sunday came, and I had no job, and nowhere to go, and I had a wife and baby to support, with no job.
Months passed, and this did not change. I finally grew desperate. I hardly ever had more than one revival scheduled ahead. This went on for more than two years.
Several years passed, and the Lord began to bless me, and open doors for my ministry, which I deeply appreciated.
About two and one-half years ago I was pastoring in Arkansas. One night after the three children were in bed, my wife and I were sitting before the fireplace in the living room. As we talked, something suddenly hit me. What I had dearly loved through all these years, I was about to lose. My boy was filled with the Holy Ghost, and was living for the Lord. But there was something missing between him and me, something that I had always desired, and which I realized I did not have. I had been so busy, and suddenly I felt that my twelve-year-old son was slipping away from me.
I prayed for awhile, and then tiptoed into his bedroom. He was sound asleep, and I talked to him, though I knew he couldn’t hear me.
I said, “Allan, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. Not that I’m a preacher, but that there are some things I should have done, and I did not do.”
I stood there, and I was determined that, at twelve years of age, “the ball game was not over.” I got down by his bed, took hold of his hand, and prayed, “Lord, I’m not going to tell Allan anything. But I hope that fifteen or twenty years from now he can look back and say, ‘I don’t know what happened to Daddy that night in Arkansas, but something happened in our house.’ ”
I was determined. I said to him, though he did not hear me, “Buddy, we are going to start something brand new.” I felt that it was the beginning of the rest of our Hives.
The next morning I woke him up, something I had never done before. He jumped up, looked around, and asked, “What’s the matter?”
I said, “It’s all right. Everything is o.k. I was just wondering if you would like to go with Daddy to get some coffee and read the paper at the cafe.”
His eyes got big. And I felt like saying, “Buddy, it’s I I starting right now.”
That evening when he came home from school, I just “happened” to have my tennis shoes on, and was bouncing a basketball in the back yard.
He said, “Daddy, what are you doing?”
I answered, “Well, I just thought you might like to play a little basketball.”
You see! It’s not over yet! It’s not too late to do things you wish you had done. Today is not the ending. ‘Today is the beginning of something new.
The prayer life you wish you had; you can start it today. The fasting schedule you planned; you can begin it now. It’s all right. You flunked last week, but that was last week. You can start brand new today.
Perhaps you have been on drugs, and have tried to wrestle with that monster addiction, and kick the habit. It may be that in the past, the best you could do was to stay off drugs for a day or two. But if you have never won a victory in the past, that has nothing to do with today. You may have missed it last week. You may have disappointed everybody that loves you. But forget the past. It all starts happening today, for today is the beginning of the rest of your life.
I like to talk to things that can’t talk back. I like to go into a church and say to the piano, “All right, piano, loosen up. There’s church tonight.” And to the pews, “Pews, get comfortable. Everyone for himself tonight. They may kick you, and push you around, but there’s church tonight. That’s part of being a pew.”
I like to talk to a calendar, and let it talk to me. When I pass one, and look at it, I am reminded of an obituary. I looked at my calendar today, and it said to me, “Monday died yesterday, and we buried her at midnight. And everything that happened on Monday was laid in the grave with her.” All the things that disappointed me yesterday are dead. Buried are all my frustrations, my apprehensions, my anxieties, my defeats.
That is the reason I have a hard time keeping from winking at Tuesday. Something makes me want to say, “I love you, Tuesday.”
Really, this is not so strange. Jesus Christ changed the whole calendar one time. When He was born, He said, “That’s it! From now on, we call it A.D. instead of B.C.” Every time I look at today, there is something there that cries out within me, “Hallelujah, I’m alive today! The past is gone, and I am going somewhere, starting today.”
About a year ago, my wife and I were preparing to have a restaurant, when a man of about forty years of ago entered a side door. His eyes told me that he was at least partly drunk. This was in a small town, and I knew who he was. His wife was a real saint of God.
Thinking that he might be too drunk to talk, I thought it best to slip quietly out. But as we moved toward the door, he called my name, and asked if he could talk with me.
I sat down, and he began to talk. It was more than an hour before he finally got up enough courage to unload his heart.
“Brother Oggs, I’m not happy. My home is not happy, because I drink.” I began to realize that he was drawing me in intimate conversation.
He continued, “The love that you take for granted in our house is not there. My wife and I are like strangers. Except for the baby (a child of about ten), we would have nothing in common at all. This is all we have.
“There is something I cannot forget. Sometimes, in the most pleasant moments, the old memory comes back. When it does, it chills the air, and kills the pleasures of the moment.”
“Dan,” I said, “I’ve been here more than two years, and I can’t remember anything so shaking that it would deprive you and your wife of happiness and love. Would you like to talk about it?”
He replied, “No. Something happened that I can’t forget. When I left the house tonight, my wife got down on her knees before me, and literally begged me not to go. She said, ‘Dan, I love you; don’t leave the house tonight.’
“What kind of a monster am I? I reached down, and unwrapped her arms from about my knees. When I closed the door behind me, she was saying, ‘Dan, I love you; don’t leave me.’ ”
I asked, “Dan, whatever it was, when did it happen?”
He answered,, “It was when Junior, our oldest son, was born.”
When he said that, it crushed me. His oldest boy was over twenty years old! “Are you telling me that for more than twenty years you have allowed this thing, whatever it was, to rob you of all the pleasures of life? Do you mean to tell me that you are miserable over something that happened over twenty years ago?”
And he cried out, “I can’t help it! I can’t help it!”
Things like this are only tricks of the devil. I am glad that yesterday was buried with the dead. Today is the moment, the time, the springboard, the launching pad. Today is the time of opportunity.
I hate to read a book and, when I get to the last chapter, there are only two or three characters left. Then, on the last page, two of them get into a fight, and kill one another. That is depressing. With only one character left, you hope for the best. But the story ends, “He went walking off toward the distant horizon, leaving behind the memories of yesterday.” I don’t like endings like that.
Such as this does not have to be the ending of your “book.” Your final chapter does not have to end in this way. Aren’t you glad that what looks like the last chapter may really be the first. It could be. “In the beginning, God created. . . .” He can create for you today a brand new life for tomorrow.
“But, preacher, I would if I could.” You can! “I would, but I tried last week, and I couldn’t.” That doesn’t matter; you can today.
Today a new day is dawning. It is the beginning of the rest of your life.
The above article, “Today is the Beginning” is written by Allan C. Oggs Sr. The article was excerpted from pages 11-23 of Oggs book Today is the Beginning.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.