New Mercies For New Years & New Days

New Mercy (1)

I almost always get in a really weird, not particularly good mood on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s like regrets from the year coming to a rapid close and fears about the future are combined with a bunch of sentimental crap, making a poisonous concoction. It’s isn’t exactly deadly, but it certainly is sickening.

I also get annoyed by all the fanfare. Maybe I’m just a New Year’s Scrooge, but I can’t help it. People are celebrating all things new when really the only thing new is the year listed on the calendar. And so what? The numbering of years is just an earthy construct used to organize the passing of time. It’s useful, but not exactly earth-shattering. People make ambitious resolutions (and I have too), knowing full well that they will probably fail within the first month. These resolutions are usually good things – like eating healthy, reading the Bible daily, or exercising more – but rarely does one actually succeed in a resolution without falling at least a little. People shout “new year, new me!” as if they didn’t say the same exact cliché last year, only to be stuck in their same old ways by February.

As Christians, we can celebrate true newness every single day – not just one day a year. And this newness isn’t like the newness that the world parades with. The newness that the world offers is really just a mask on the same old deadness inside. The newness that God offers reaches to the deepest darkest places in our souls. It brings what is dead back to life and replaces cold, hard hearts.

As this year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about one particular passage of scripture: Lamentations 3:22-24. Read it once, and read it again.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV)

Did you catch that? His mercies are new every morning. Not just the day you first believed. Not just the moment you first trusted Jesus. Every morning. Every single day. His faithfulness doesn’t end. For every morning we wake, His mercies for us are new.

Of course, it doesn’t always feel that way. More often than not, our hearts and minds are flooded with worries, doubts, pain, and the weight of yesterday as soon as the alarm sounds and our eyes open. Mornings are filled with dread and not celebration. In these groggy moments, it is so easy to lose sight of truth. Just like our eyes struggle to adjust to the bright light of day after hours of darkness, our minds struggle to focus on the Light of Christ after hours of sleep. These early morning moments can easily define the rest of our day – at least, they tend to do so for me. Most mornings I struggle to get up – fighting anxiety about the past and the future, doubts, guilt, and just sheer exhaustion.

Whatever I’m feeling though, that doesn’t make truth any less true. The truth is that God is faithful and His mercies are continually new. I don’t have to carry the weight of yesterday’s shame, failures, and struggles, nor do I have to carry the worries of tomorrow. For the past few weeks, my nightly prayer as been “God, help me remember your mercies when I wake.” God is faithful. He has reminded me of them. It makes me almost teary eyed to think of it. Mornings still feel like a struggle. I have to wrestle with the thoughts that flood to my mind. It’s a battle and I don’t always win. Still – God is faithful. His mercies are continually renewed. They were new today, on the last day of 2018. They will be new tomorrow, as 2019 dawns. They will always be new. And thanks be to God.

Train of Toast

Train of toast. Or so that’s what my friend calls it. It’s more commonly referred to as “Train of thought.” Ever noticed the crazy track that our minds travel sometimes? I never thought about it too much until my junior year of high school. It was second semester and I was enrolled in an English course. We had a student teacher (who was quite awesome and fun). Anyways, we were reading Catcher in the Rye. If you’ve ever read the book, you know that Holden’s thoughts easily went from one thing to another. The student teacher had us do a train of thought exercise. He would say one noun and we would all write what we thought of next. We would continue to write what came to mind next until he called time. For example:

Word given:

Penguin

Train of thought:

Penguin

Cold

Snow

Ice

Ice-cream

Dad (that’s another story)

Airplanes

Sky

Blue

Jeans

Yeah. You get the idea. Anyways, we would all go around and share our lists with the class. I noticed some frequent trends among my classmates including food, homework, and significant others.  I don’t know why but the other day I was chatting with a friend online and this exercise came to mind. (Not the friend that says train of toast) I told her about it and we did it together over the internet. Quite fun. I must admit that Doctor Who came up frequently in hers.

Have you ever noticed how our minds take reckless turns however? It can happen any day and everyday. Our minds wander to things that distract us. We may even find ourselves thinking of evil or creepy things. I think we’ve all had these thoughts. To be honest, I’m not always sure how I end up there. It’s not always easy to stop them either. These thoughts hold on tight. These thoughts also lead to similar thoughts and many times I feel like my mind in traveling in a circle.

Sometimes my mind simply wanders to uncomfortable things such as worrying about what could happen. I may try to think of something else but my mind ends up traveling in a circle. Worry is stressful. Worry is uncomfortable. Worry distracts us from the tasks at hand. Worry is going to happen at some point or other. But it shouldn’t take control of us. Nor should evil thoughts. We have an amazing and merciful God watching over us and every little thing in life. Think about it.

“So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need.

        ~ “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman

We need to remember this whenever worry creeps up on us. That same God can help us fight the evil thoughts that our train of thought encounters as well. All too often however, we forget to think of Him and all that He has done. I admit that I am guilty of this quite frequently. Since God made all things though, shouldn’t we think of Him, His love, His mercy, His promises more often? I don’t mean the little passing thoughts about God that go as quickly as they came. If we think of Him more we may simply find ourselves happier, less stressed, more loved and less worried. I’m not saying that you have to focus on Him every second of your life. That’s not realistic in this life. Thinking of Him more often could do us all some good though. Your relationship with Him will grow. That relationship needs to be the basis of all you do. He already knows your thoughts. Even the creepy ones you don’t want to admit. He knows your worries. He knows every secret. He loves you despite your darkest moments. He wants your relationship with him to grow. You have to be apart of that growth however.  Just remember that He is one thought away. Help and comfort is a few whispered words away as well.