Who doesn’t love the month of September for the promise it holds of a fresh start? The annual rhythms of new classrooms, classmates, teachers, and subjects—both for ourselves and then for our children—have trained us well. We succumbed to the notion that buying new notebooks, new pens and pencils in every color under the sun, new clothes, and new shoes would blot out any lingering and unsavory memory from the prior year. Our internal body calendars remind us this is the season where a fresh start is possible.
Even though it’s been years since I was that student acquiring a bevy of new school trappings, I still look to September—even more than January—as the month of new beginnings. September heralds a fresh start, and with it, new possibilities.
How often in our personal lives do we long for a similar fresh start, our own “personal September” like we were offered in our academic lives? What if we could find that fresh start and enjoy it not just once a year, but every day?
At the center point of the Book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah assures us that is exactly what God offers us. New mercies. New compassion. Every day.
Our own daily fresh start.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
Life can sometimes feel overwhelming, like we’re stuck in a rut of our own making. We awaken to the sudden realization that we’re not on the path we wanted—not professionally, not personally, not spiritually. We give too much credence to that voice in our head telling us we’ve made a mess of things again, yet we feel powerless to shut off the voice recording. We engage in the same bad habit or the same argument with the same person despite our longing to be free from its hold over us. Our tongues are too sharp and our prayer life too dull.
We read verses like the ones above and squirm. Yes, God is loving, but surely, those words don’t apply to me given all I’ve done, who I am. But these verses contain no caveats. There are no conditions required to receive God’s love, mercy, and compassion. Just a heart that turns to him to receive his great love and be sheltered in his loving mercy.
In his beautiful book, Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund describes in poignant detail the steadfast and extravagant love God has for his people, even when we screw up. Even though our ways are evil. Even despite our stubborn and rebellious hearts. Even when we turn our back on God and forsake him. Ortlund writes this,
“Expecting judgment, he surprises them with comfort. Why? Because he had pulled them into his heart and they cannot sin their way out of it.”
Let that last phrase sink in. You cannot sin your way out of the heart of God. He loves you with an everlasting love.
No more waiting for September or New Year’s Day. Every day, every moment of every day, we’re offered the opportunity to turn toward God’s heart of love for us and receive a fresh start.
Bonnie O’Neil is an inspirational communicator who is passionate about restoring hope to hurting people. She is a spiritual director and the Executive Director of the faith-based nonprofit Alpha Mid Atlantic. She is the author of two books, Chronic Hope which helps readers discover hope in the unexpected and challenging seasons of life, and My Identity is in Christ which examines how to break free from our false identities to live in the freedom God intends for us. Bonnie has three adult children and lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband. More of her writing can be found at www.bonnieoneil.com.