New Every Morning

I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, right about the time that hippie-style “Jesus Folk” music was becoming a staple in *gulp* dare I say it? – stodgy – mainline, evangelical churches.  Hymnals were being replaced by songsheets and the occasional overhead projection; organs, pianos, and, in our case, brass bands were being supplemented (not replaced) by guitars; and defined song selections gave way to pick-your-favorite sing-a-longs (this was, you realize, years before “seeker-sensitive” and super-tech-savvy productions happened; we still hadn’t become production-oriented).

At the time, it was all very hip and wonderful.  Now, though, as a solidly middle-aged person who has run the church gamut multiple times, I tend to gravitate toward the grander hymns of the faith and have to admit, nothing stirs my soul like a well-played organ (especially if that organ is playing Kingsfold or something else by Ralph Vaughn Williams).  Nonetheless, there are some of those “pick-your-favorite” sing-a-long songs that, on occasion, really stir my soul.  Here’s one of them:

Today was just such a day.  Started yesterday, actually.  Maybe it’s the “late-winter-bucket-of-suck” time of year, maybe it’s the grad school schedule I’m pulling on top of full-time-plus work, maybe it’s the 20 pounds I’ve packed on since September, maybe it’s all of those things.  Whatever it is, I’m tired.  So, so very tired. Waiting for this particular season (meteorological, professional, spiritual, personal…again, whatever…) to pass and for spring to bloom in my heart and mind and soul and, for Pete’s sake, in my yard!  Right before I went to sleep, as I was getting in my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year chapters (5 on a good day, 15 on a catch-up day; that was last night), this is what popped up on my phone:

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Timely, right?  Nonetheless, I cried myself to sleep, praying, “Hasten the day, Father…please, hasten the day.”

Now, if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll remember that, on occasion, I’ve been known to treat Facebook posts like fortune cookies.  Sometimes, it’s amusing; other times, it’s absolutely uncanny.  This morning has been uncanny.  First, while I was slapping on my pretty-for-the-public face:

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Just like a 19th-century preacher to slap me in the face.  They were good at that, you know. (Smith Wigglesworth smacked a corpse – well, kind of threw it against a wall – it got up and went home.  True story.)  But let’s not leave it to revivalists; here’s what came from, for cryin’ out loud, Toby Mac:

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My season of waiting.  Waiting for spring – new life, new purpose, new vision, new hope – to burst through the cold, unyielding, frozen ground of winter.  But winter is when all that life gathers energy to explode at just the right time.  And while I wait, I must remember that the Lord Himself is renewing my strength…not to run forward, but to wait.  The mounting up, and the running, and the walking all come after the waiting.

When I was in the 4th and 5th grades, I attended a little Christian school where we had chapel every morning.  One of the “pick-your-favorite sing-a-long” songs we sang frequently was a musical setting of Isaiah 40:31.  The emphasis wasn’t on mounting up, or running, or walking.  Look at the lyric structure and notice how it begins and ends:

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength:

They shall mount up with wings as eagles,

They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.

The emphasis is on not the forward or upward or explosive motion, it’s on the waiting.  In waiting on God is our strength renewed.  And in remembering this, I feel my strength and resolve and joy being renewed.  It’s like Proverbs 15:23 says so beautifully: “A man hath joy by the answers of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

God’s word to me today  – word spoken in due season – is truly good, and His mercies, so tender and compassionate and tailor-made for me, are new every morning!  Great is His faithfulness!

 

Chesed

It’s 4:38 am as I write this, yet another post in a long line of multiple blogs. My last blog went the way of my hacked and stolen email account, and even WordPress, God bless them, can’t retrieve it for me.  But as I sit here at 4:39 am, thinking about the many times I’ve started blogging because it’s true! I love to share my life with others, with whomever can derive pleasure, joy, or blessing from my journey, I am forced to ask myself, Really? What do you really have to offer? What makes your story so interesting that you just have to write about it at 4:41 am?

Not that my journey will be adequately reflected in a blog post, or even a series of them, but, at now 47 years old, here’s what I finally determined I have to offer the world, here’s my testimony, my “as God is my witness” statement:

CHESED.

Chesed is a word I learned in seminary, what seems like multiple lifetimes ago.  Chesed is a beautiful Hebrew word meaning “lovingkindness” or, as the title of this blog indicates, tender mercy.  In the Old Testament, chesed is used to describe how God relates to His people, people who ran the gamut from noble and praiseworthy to deceitful and shameful. No matter what the state of the people, God always dealt with them as a kind, loving, nurturing parent, always acting in their best interest and with compassion at the root of even what looked like harsh discipline.

Looking over my life, I see the same thing: chesed.  Every step I have taken, even those markedly outside of my understanding of God’s plan, has been flanked by God’s tender mercy, leading me, ultimately, closer to Him.

I have a sweet friend who has encouraged me, perhaps unknowingly, to keep my eyes open and watch for God’s tender mercy in my life each day.  Whether it’s a Facebook post, an act of kindness, a surprise blessing…what it is matters less than the fact that I am now being more mindful of God’s intentional interaction with me, every day.  My hope is that, by sharing the tender mercy of God in my life, you will realize His tender mercy in yours, as well.