Lamentations 3:22-23 -“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
“Groundhog Day” is on the list of my all-time favourite movies and I’ve watched it countless times. No pun intended. Why? Because it is hilarious, and it is a story of redemption. I can relate to Phil Connors all too easily. It probably took him years if you added up all of Phil’s Groundhog Days, but the flawed, broken, and emotionally clueless protagonist finally learned to accept himself and to love the world around him. In the meantime, ‘Whoever’ was trying to teach him that lesson showed infinite patience with their student.
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” ~ Francis de Sales
In January, we decide to make positive changes in our lives. By February, most of us concede to defeat. We failed to meet our goals. We wallow in self-loathing and bemoan our lack of ability to follow through. By March, exercise bikes become clothes racks and junk food lands in our grocery carts. We hit the snooze button far too often, curtailing our morning devotions. The prayer journal we bought in January collects dust on our bedside tables. As we look back over our lack of success, we label ourselves as failures. God never does.
The odds of keeping New Year Resolutions are rather small, according to statisticians. As Christ-followers, It is at the place of surrendering our willpower, self-reliance, and self-righteousness to God that we begin to see victory over reoccurring sins and harmful habits in our lives. As we humble ourselves before God and as we choose to be vulnerable and transparent before our brothers and sisters in Christ, we find freedom. Paradoxically, we only find strength when we admit to ourselves, God, and the world around us that we are weak.
God is well aware of our weaknesses; He knew what He was getting when he invited us to join him in this grand adventure. God’s mercies are new every morning, no matter how many mornings in a row we failed to rise out of bed early enough to spend a few minutes with him. He intends to mould us into people of our word, but he will only do so by extending His empowering grace to us. His methods are challenging and direct but they are never condemning or demeaning. He’s in it for the long haul because he knows our potential. God keeps that goal ever before His eyes. He sees us and loves us as we are now. However, He sees us as who we are yet meant to be, and nothing will stop him from calling us forward into our divinely crafted potential.
We are swift to label ourselves as write-offs because of a slight stumble. Most of us give up on ourselves far too easily. We intellectually acknowledge Christ’s forgiveness when we turn to him in repentance, yet we can’t move past our failures. Our failures become hurdles that eventually transform into mountains as we use them as excuses to return to bad habits.
“I ate one cookie. Therefore, I failed my plan to live a healthy lifestyle. I might as well eat the entire box of cookies.”
“I didn’t wake up early two mornings in a row and missed my quiet time. I might as well face it; some people are cut out to be close to God, but I guess I don’t have what it takes…”
Jeremiah says it so well in Lamentations 3:17-20. Have you ever felt this way after a momentary lapse of self-control?
“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall’ My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.”
If anyone had a reason to feel hopeless about his circumstances, it was Jeremiah! But he doesn’t stay in that place for long as we see by reading further along in Lamentations 3:21-25.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him.'”
Pray with me.
Lord, I gratefully take advantage of your offer. I receive your grace and mercy. If I fail, grant me the grace to repent swiftly. I resolve to be just as quick to accept your forgiveness and to forgive myself. I let myself off the hook as I lay myself down at your feet. I choose obedience over willpower. I declare that you are the God of new beginnings. I trust your grace and will intentionally acknowledge your presence throughout my day. I trust your leadership. Give me the focus to keep my eyes set on the goal before me. Help me not to focus on my strengths and weaknesses. I choose to centre myself on your strength and power. Thank you that you make all things new – today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Each day, I will take hold of the new slate you hand me. Convict me when I slip into self-condemnation, self-pity, and hopelessness.
Psalm 103:8-13 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
2018 Katherine Walden
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