of course we all feel that way on certain days. come 10 o'clock and the kids still awake we ask ourselves and maybe our spouses... will this day never end? with these past two weeks of holiday making, my children have all had ridiculously late bedtimes. the days sometimes a little too long. even the very smallest girl has been seen romping around at unseemly hours. we're all off schedule. and i've noticed things about these late nights: like, when the movie ends at 11pm or the family is up in the kitchen fixing a snack at 10:30, i've noticed that sometimes the patience runs thin and the irritability runs high. we are all tired and tiresome. and i'm probably the worst one of them all. that's what it is. i want to tell my family to go get in bed, climb into their covers, because tomorrow will come. and we need it. we need our tomorrows. and just like little orphan annie sang her heart out, "the sun will come out tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar, that tomorrow there'll be sun..." she was right. she had hope. there is something about tomorrow. there is something about a new day. a fresh start. a blank page. there is something wonderful about the mercy of mornings.
our bleakest thoughts and our sharpest fears fill the night. "though weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning."(psalm 30:5). when i cried myself to sleep as a teenage girl with a broken heart, i thought i understood this verse well. but with a little more life under my belt: disappointments, failed attempts, further heartbreak, anxious times, disobedient children, rejection, a frightening diagnosis...this verse means something different. something more. have you ever wept through a night? i have. as blessed as we are, each one of us has probably had something or someone who has caused all night weeping. it isn't pretty, is it? david understood that, "i am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; i drench my couch with my weeping." (psalm 6:6). even david, a man after God's own heart, spent some good nights crying his eyes out. he understood what it meant to wait for morning, to wait for something new. and even if everything isn't all better come sunrise, joy has a much better shot. it is the craziest thing -- the thoughts which can torment and torture throughout the dark hours of evening, calm and quiet with the first move toward morning. it is a new day and new mercies do come. it is called hope. and it just seems easier to find earlier in the day.
hope springs up from something new. it springs up from change. we are reminded that life is not static and straight. God created seasons and cycles. He created day and night. He created all of this even before He created man and woman, because He knew we'd need a break. immediately. He knew we'd have little children who must have bedtimes and He knew the mother and the father, well, they'd need sleep and fresh starts and plenty of do-overs too. He knew we'd need summer to warm our winters and winters to replenish the heavy heat of summer. He knew we'd need time: hours, days, months and those crazy new years. before He even stirred adam from the dust of the earth, God stirred the idea of new hope. He wove it into His very command of creation. because He knew.
i think the prodigal son is a new year's eve boy. after his wild and reckless living, after his raucous and rebellious behavior, after his turning his back on his father and family, he comes home. he comes home limping and dirty and smelling of pig. he comes home tired and tortured and wrong. oh boy, was he was wrong -- big time. he had gone and gambled with his very inheritance. he toyed with the treasure entrusted to him and it ended in complete and total disaster. he ended broken and bruised and sharing quarters with swine. but when he realized the error of his ways and turned his heart toward home, toward his father, new mercies were waiting for him on the threshold. his father didn't just open his arms, but ran to meet his wayward son walking the dusty lane. his father killed the fatted calf and his father threw the biggest ball (i imagine better than any new year's eve celebration ever). his lost son was found. his rebellious son was restored. the ball didn't have to drop and the year didn't have to change, but it was time to start anew. the son had been found. new mercy had been found. new life had been found. it was time to party.
and that's exactly the picture of our Father's love for us as we head into 2012. new mercy. in the middle of black night or in the midst of bright morning, our Father is ready to clothe us in His new robes of righteousness. He is ready to restore us. ready to wipe clean our slate and make clean our countenance. He is ready with open arms and an open door and a fatted calf. there is no pig pen too dirty, no rebel too rebellious, no sin too ugly. new year or not, there is always new mercy found on the threshold of our Father.
i wish you friends, in this new year... new mercies, new hope and new life.