In college, my first year English professor, Mrs. Wagner, began each class period with an inspiring saying on the board. One of these I often recall: “Each day create a new you again, again, and again.”
The repetition of the word again made me do some thinking back then and quite a bit now. One new me a day seems enough, and it would seem to take a lot of work to keep creating a new person throughout a whole day. I am not sure what I wrote back then. In college, I thought I had it all together, so probably nothing too deep. But since then, life has dealt some hard challenges, and through the years, I have felt pretty worn. That word again keeps coming back to me.
The freezer breaks down, and all the meat has gone bad; a copier jams just when there is a deadline to meet; news from the doctor about a lump that needs to be treated immediately: Such things can happen in a short time and be overwhelming.
But in these times, we can learn something about ourselves — something I didn’t get when I was young but am getting more now: Life’s best lessons come from failure. I did not like to fail when I was young. Things going wrong messed with my ego, but now I am learning that during difficult times, we can search for what is really in us.
God gives opportunities every day for me to make me what I want me to be. To be sure, we are not in control of the situations that come our way. When driving down the road, I can’t do anything about getting a flat tire, but I can choose the way I react when I hear the thuds of a tire going flat.
This is a moment when I can create a new me. I can react with impatience and anxiousness that will cause just more stress and possibly more problems because I am out of a good mindset. Or I can accept the situation for what it is, change the flat tire, and thank God that I am safe and back on the road.
The only way to learn about patience is to be in an anxious time. We learn about courage by experiencing fear. When we are weak and can’t go on, we can find strength and perseverance. In times of discouragement, we can see that there is hope.
The important word here is can. God makes available to us all we need, so in every situation we can have things like patience, courage, strength, perseverance, and hope. God is good and is always giving us good things.
Teaching the kingdom
Jesus is the ultimate Teacher. He is the best authority on the kingdom of God because He is the kingdom of God. He knows where people are and meets them in their situations. It is not that heaven is so hard to understand but that we tend to be stubborn and don’t let the simple truths of God’s love and will into our minds and hearts.
Jesus wanted people to know about God’s kingdom, and He knew that the only way to get through to them was to show them the kingdom. That is why Jesus went to the blind, deaf, lame, and sick and performed miracles — even raised the dead. He taught people in parables and shared simple stories that met people where they were.
Jesus was trying to get people to understand that the kingdom of God was about new life in Him. In Christ we have always been able to come to God with our problems and the burden of the guilt and shame of sin, and find strength and forgiveness.
By the grace of God, there is never a “bad” day. Yet I want to be careful not to minimize our problems. Bad things do happen. Peter tried to walk on water with Jesus but lacked faith and began to sink. He had boldly said he would die with Jesus, then later denied his Friend and Lord. That was truly a bad day for him as he wept. Not getting it right was a pattern with Peter at first. He had a lot to learn and had to start over.
Remaking a day
I think Mrs. Wagner was trying to get over-inflated college students open to new ideas. God is asking, “What are you making for this day?” While things may happen that try to discourage me, it does not mean that this day has to be bad. I can say when anything happens that life is good today.
When I go to visit my great niece, I like to buy her a little gift, like new crayons or a book. The last time I visited, I bought her Play-Doh. I had forgotten how much fun it is to mold something with your hands.
With her imagination and little fingers, she made a dog. “Look, Uncle Tom,” she said. “My new little puppy.” I said, “Yes, I can see it,” though I really just saw a ball of Play-Doh with some thumb impressions in it. The great thing about Play-Doh is that it can be made into something new — like each day.
“You can have it if you want,” she said. The puppy is on my desk with a little note: “Life is good today.”BA