NEW EVERY MORNING
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 21, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)
Have you ever wondered why we often fall into doubt and negativity at the first hint of trouble in our lives? After pondering this weakness in myself for many decades now, I conclude that it’s a God given “fail-safe” mechanism to keep us continually aware of God’s goodness. If everything always went well, we’d have no need to reach out to God. King Hezekiah is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. He was suffering from a serious illness, which God, through Isaiah, told him he would not survive. He didn’t doubt this bad news, didn’t ask Isaiah if he were really sure about it, or suggest he should go check out the information one more time. No, he turned his face to the wall and wept bitterly. As you remember the story, Isaiah was leaving the palace, when the word of the Lord came to him to go back and tell Hezekiah that God had heard his prayer and seen his tears, and on the third day, he would be healed and go up to the house of the Lord (II Ki 20:5), AND God would add 15 years to his life. Most of us today would be shouting “Hallelujahs,” big time, on hearing this news, but Hezekiah wanted a sign that it would happen. The sign he chose was that the sundial would go back ten steps.
He didn’t ask for a sign to convince him that he was going to die. He embraced it, owned it, and went down for the count. Yet, when good news was presented to him, he questioned it, doubted it as too good to be true, and asked for a sign that it was going to happen. Maybe you have never reacted this way, but I confess that I have. This “believe bad news, doubt good news” from the Lord is exactly the behavior in me that God is currently in the process of rooting out. It constantly amazes me that after all the wondrous things God has done in my life, I still sometimes have doubts that He will continue to do so.
The verse quoted at the beginning, from Lamentations, was one of Lenny’s favorites. He often said, “God is new every morning.” I wasn’t sure what he was seeing that made him so confident, but the verse came rushing back to me last week as I saw the 5th wheel which Lenny and I had lived in for 6 years, being hauled away. I held onto it after we moved into the house, because I thought someone else in the family might be able to use it. What happened out of that decision was that the principle of entropy set in, and this lovely little home which served us so well for so long, gradually, but continuously fell into decay and ruin.
Long story short, the only buyer I could find for it was an RV Salvage Yard, who offered me only a pittance of what I had thought it was worth. They sent a man here on Friday to haul it away. Because all the mechanisms had frozen up, the pop-out wouldn’t go back in. It took him at least an hour to get it right because he could not haul the unit with the pop-out extended.
You know how God has that way of showing you something in an instant? I saw, as it was being hauled away, that holding on to things, is probably what Watchman Nee meant when he said, “You cannot expect God to give you something if your hands are full of something else. You must come to God empty handed.” That’s a paraphrase, but its truth quickly flashed through my mind.
When we lost our house in 1997, Lenny had rehabbed a cargo container on his brother’s property, so we could store our furniture in there. We were thinking that we might need it in another home. However, as I was packing up our stuff to move out of the house, a moment of panic came over me and I asked God, “Where will my home be now?” His answer really didn’t comfort me very much at the time. He replied, “I AM your home.”
Clearly, I didn’t get the full meaning of that, because I opted to hold on to our furniture, and other things. Fast forward the clock about 6 years, and we ended up having to throw away and give away much of what was left in that container because the mice had ruined most of it. I remember saying to Lenny, “If I’d known this was going to happen, I’d have gotten rid of this stuff when we moved out of the house.”
That’s the lament of one who had kept something in her hand, and bluntly speaking, it’s also the lament of one who obviously didn’t totally trust the Lord to provide for us down the road.
My attitude could be compared to that of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked what good thing he must do to get eternal life. (Matt. 19:16) When Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, “he went away sad because he had great wealth.” (Matt. 19:22) (What we stored in that bin was not great wealth, but it was all we had).
As He often did, Jesus used this as a teaching moment. He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Vs. 24) The astounded disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Vs. 25) The presumption here, no doubt based on the law which promised blessings for obedience and abject failure for sin (see Deut. 28), is that having money and other material goods was the evidence that rich people have kept the law better than poor folks, but Jesus replied, “With man, this (being saved) is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” (Vs. 26)
Never one to be shy in pressing his cause, Peter made the point that he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. I have felt that way as well.
Jesus’ answer to him has always impressed me and left me wondering: “I tell you the truth…no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mk. 10:29-30)
This last sentence is the shocker, because society has always valued winners over losers, and the winners under the Law, were always the righteous. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, which meant that He gave no preference to the rich over the poor, and in fact, spent a great deal of time healing and defending the poor.
The Gospel message given by Jesus in parables and by Paul in his letters is a complete overhaul of all men have held dear. Are you rich in material goods? Don’t get smug and satisfied with your efforts, or you’ll end up like the rich fool who was going to build bigger barns to hold his bounty. God poked a hole in his boastful bragging, saying, “Fool, This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Lk. 12:20) To borrow a title from C.S. Lewis, Jesus came to introduce a “Topsy Turvy” Kingdom.
God is not only New every morning, but He constantly surprises us with His way of seeing things, which is so very different from the way we see them. As the 5th wheel was rolling off the farm, I heard, “A New chapter is beginning.” And it makes spiritual sense to me that since God is new every morning, so are we, because He lives in us and we in Him. His very DNA, the breath of His Spirit keeps us alive, long past our “sell-by date.” (The title of last week’s writing, which you can find on the blog). He moves through us, His wonders to perform, and as He flows through us, others are blessed as well.
Father, we worship and adore You as the keeper of our souls, the enricher of our spirits, and the bestower of love in our hearts which fuels our interactions with You and others You put in our path. With all the Saints who have gone before and all who are still here on Earth, we join our voices with those who surround Your throne, saying, “Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.