“Thank you God that your mercies are new every morning. Thank you that you give us a new sheet every day and allow us to write new words and draw new pictures.”
This was my prayer upon waking this morning. I opened my eyes and a thrill rushed through my heart—a sense of expectation and hope as I greeted my Heavenly Father. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I am not one of those thoughtful, well put together Christians that has a holiness about them that leaves you in awe. I know Christians like that. They are so… well, ‘Christian’ in every way. In the past I have often longed to be like that. (And I know someone reading this will ask “Why?!” And to that my answer is, “Because some of them are deep wells of love and grace. They are not all judgemental and self righteous. I have known some.”) But I am not like that. I don’t manage to spend an hour in prayer and 45 minutes of contemplative Bible reading.
My encounters with God are different. Daily. Everywhere. I meet God when I’m looking for Him and when I’m not. I meet Him in my pain and in my laughter, in my joy, in my disappointment and in my tears and anger. This morning was no different. When I awakened and ‘felt’ Him there, watching over me the same way I used to watch my sleeping children—and still do on occasion—I had a sense of love and acceptance in my spirit.
The miracle about this is that, percentage wise, most of my life has been about performance, about trying to achieve and attain. As I whispered the prayer this morning, my memory flashed back in time to my school days and the thrill of receiving a new subject notebook. Every time the teacher handed me that notebook I would touch the clean straight edges. I would silently vow to keep it clean, neat and with unbent edges. Days, weeks, months later that notebook looked as tattered and pathetic as the one before it and disappointment would give way to resignation. It wasn’t possible.
Had I recognized that the clean pages had nothing to offer, I might have seen it all differently. The book without a spot was beautiful. It was perfect. But it was empty. The lines were the same. There was nothing to offer the person looking for information, guidance or anything else at all–that person would be disappointed if it was the only book available. My used book with smudges, stains, food spills and dog nibbles had so much more. Sure, if given the choice, most would reach for the empty one because it looks better but anyone taking time to open the book and look inside would most likely choose the other book. Inside my books were doodles, pictures, words, thoughts… and I’m only describing the outer edges. Besides all that there was my work, comments from teachers—sometimes reminding me not to doodle—my marks and so much more. Still it is natural to want that nice neat book. That longing to start over and do it right, do it better is as natural as breathing to God’s children. But what if that isn’t what God can use most? What if it’s the raw, the real, the bloody, the broken that really impact our world?
God loves us. Clean pages or dirty pages, God loves us. He cares not a whit about our perfection, our attainment, our goodness. In fact, they get in the way of us really experiencing His love. He longs for that intimate relationship with us that allows us to stop rushing, working, striving and simply bask in His love. Whether that is the saint daily spending and hour or two with Him & His Word in a rocker, recliner or in the woods or garden or whether it’s like me, forty minutes on the road to and from work soaking up His love through silence, worship music and my Bible on CD. His desire is to move from these time slots and into every part of our lives. He greets us in the morning. He sees us fight tears at work. He knows that deep fear that cripples our spirits. These are the places of worship he longs to step into with us.
God doesn’t take our tattered pages and toss them in the trash. That isn’t why He gives us a clean sheet. Each page filled with our story is kept in a safe place. In Psalms 139 the Bible says He wrote every day of our lives in a book before we were born. He doesn’t tear out the tattered pages and leave the rest. Every page is necessary to complete our story and touch our world.
Today I determine again to keep letting Him join me in every part of my life, not formally or religiously, but with a sense of expectation and hope. Every day I am going to thank Him for a new sheet to draw and write my story. And on the days that I forget and my heart is ungrateful, I am going to remain confident that His love reaches past my performance to embrace me as I hold up my page with its crumpled edges and offer it as a gift to Him. I will choose to worship Him not only with my laughter and my joy, but with my pain and my tears.
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering…
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.