Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Chalkboards in the Morning
It seems as though I haven't had any inspiration for a "year in review" post. Yes, much has happened. And yes, there are many goals I have in mind for the year ahead. But unlike last year, I don't have the desire to do a month by month walk back in time. Last year was quite different; our lives had completely changed. This time, I prefer to keep my thoughts tucked away about 2012. Besides, those closest to me who actually read my blog know the main highlights anyway.
To wrap it all up in one neat, little bundle that I could stuff in a tiny shell and send zooming over the information highway directly to your screen: God is merciful. That's all that really matters. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, mercies that are fresh and new each morning. When day breaks the darkness of night and the sky awakens slowly from pitch black to a hazy gray to a beautiful light blue. His mercy likewise changes the color of our heart's horizon. And as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the kiss of dew on each blade of grass, as sure as dawn of another day, we are given the most valuable prize ever won: the chance to try again.
My Dad once made what I believe to be one of the most awesome points I've ever heard on mercy. Remember when soda companies first started the trend of prizes won under the cap or at the bottom of the can? So many times we read over and over, "Please try again", to which my Dad taught that was the greatest prize we could ever win in our lifetime: the chance to try again.
I am reminded of my old 4th grade classroom chalkboard. It was actually several huge chalkboards fitted together that covered an entire wall. Mrs. Harris chose a student at the end of each school day, right before the last recess, for the coveted (yes, coveted) job of washing the boards. The lucky student would go fill the old tin bucket with soap and water, and with a huge, over-sized sponge he or she would wash clean all the writings and lessons of the day. I have no idea why it was such a desired occupation rather than going outside to the playground for that last spin on the merry-go-round with the boom box blaring in the center, that last game of kick ball with Principal Wood, that last swing on the swing set while singing to the top of one's lungs, that last opportunity to catch a yellow jacket in the half drank can of grape soda. I waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity to my 8 year old mind for my chance to wash the boards. Finally, it came. I was never so happy to clean something. (How I wish I still felt that happiness while doing housework!) I dipped that giant sponge in the pail of tepid, sudsy water, stepped up onto the stool designated for the washer, and from top to bottom, all the way from one side of the wall to the other, I wiped clean every mark.
Forgive my simple mind, but I see each new year like that chalkboard. I think that the prospect of washing it all clean should be exciting, something to look forward to, to be happy about while we're doing it. I also believe that the start of a brand new year is the perfect time to do a little soul searching, a little praying, a little fasting. It only makes sense to me to do these things as the precious gift of the "chance to try again" is set before us. Let the water of the Word wash you clean. Detoxify your physical and spiritual self in a good fast. Spend the dawn of each new day (beautifully painted with that fresh mercy!) on your knees in prayer before the rest of the world wakes up around you.
So once again, I find myself on that step stool at the chalk board, damp sponge in hand, the powdery scent of chalk in the air (because there's a lot on the board), and a smile on my face. I'm remembering the past year I see written before me. I see lots of laughter, lots of tears, a few achievements, a few mistakes, lessons learned, and a ton of blessings I could have never deserved. So many memories. Some I never want to forget, others I wish I could. And through it all, another year of my life gone forever, there is one beautiful constant: My God stayed the same. The same He will be today, the same He will be tomorrow. I take hold of my gift, and I start washing the slate clean, yet again. I claim my prize brought with another new year wrapped in new mercy.
I will try again.