Welcome to a new year friends! A new year always comes with anticipation and excitement and goals and beginnings. It comes with dreams of what could be and sometimes heartache over what has been. I quit making resolutions long ago because I honestly couldn’t stand the idea of writing “lose ten pounds and work out five times a week” in another journal only to look back at the end of the year and realize that lasted about two weeks, max. What I’ve instead learned to do is to set some broad goals, what I like to call intentional thoughts, to guide me in a direction I hope to go during a new season. This seems to work much better for me and results in a lot less disappointment.
During this first week of 2019, as I reflected on what I felt God was leading me to in the new year, I kept coming back to the words “hope” and “mercy”…. more specifically as they are used in Lamentations 3:21-23 (NLT)
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Towards the end of the year, I was listening to a podcast where the guest shared that he hoped to live a life that were we living during the times when the Bible was scripted, his life would make for a wonderful Bible story. That thought has played over and over in my mind as I wondered what my story might sound like in the pages of Scripture. It didn’t take long for me to begin to cringe and beat myself up about what a horrible example of faith I might be. I played over all the big mistakes and seasons of living out of the will of God and wondered which ones would be highlighted. But almost as quickly, I was reminded of mercy. I was also reminded of the mistakes made by Abraham, David, Sarah, and Rahab (who is designated as Rahab the Prostitute…probably not how any of us would want to be remembered), yet each of their names and many others who failed (by our standards) is listed in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith” as being righteous and pleasing to God.
God isn’t asking for perfection from us, if we could be perfect there would’ve been no need for his shed blood. He’s asking for faithfulness….He’s asking for us to accept that each day comes with new mercy and a new chance to love him more than we did the day before and to rest in assurance that He’s already done the hard work. He’s asking us for surrender and joy and gratefulness and praise! He wants us to live abundantly with HOPE….because the end of the story has already been written! The Bible stories aren’t written to highlight the people they are about…they are written to highlight how God used them to bring honor and glory to HIM.
As someone who spends way too much time berating myself and wishing I were different…more this than this or less this than this….in 2019 I pray that I begin to accept the mercy of God each day and then allow myself that same mercy to take some risks knowing that I will likely make mistakes along the way. I’m certainly not saying I’m giving myself a license to sin so that God’s grace can abound more (Romans 6:1), but rather to allow myself to be myself….remembering God created me. He’s guided my experiences that have shaped me and influenced me. His ways are higher than my ways and His plans are much bigger than mine. And as I give myself more mercy, I hope to be more merciful with others too. To love because I am loved. I hope to be so aware of doors God opens that I walk through them without any hesitation or fear of what might be ahead. I do not want to miss one single thing God has for me because the enemy fills my mind with lies, doubts, fears, or worry. I also don’t want to miss that my story is not about me….it’s about HIM. That is the HOPE we have as believers.
I know I won’t get this perfect, and you won’t either, but every single day is a new opportunity and begins with new mercies. Let’s encourage others, be kind to everyone (including ourselves) and love like never before this year. Our world doesn’t need any more condemnation, hate, anger, rage, or accusations….we need a lot more peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Here’s to letting God do His work through me (and you) this year! I can’t wait to see where God takes us. Happy 2019!!