I’m a lifelong Sunday School girl, and I grew up singing the old hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.“ There’s one line that lingers in my head these days as the mornings come crashing down on me, and with them that old, familiar ache of fear, or worry, of not being able to control the future:
“Morning by morning new mercies I see . . .”
I was thinking about that line when I woke up today.
Most mornings when I wake up and stumble to the bathroom to put in my contact lenses and step on and off the scale and then head to the kitchen to figure out how to prepare breakfast without using the leaky sink, I’m not thinking about Christ’s mercies.
I’m thinking about my to-do list.
I’m thinking about my worries and how my hair has more gray in it than I remember from last month. I’m thinking about what we’re going to do if it turns out there isn’t actually a spot for my daughter in the preschool we’re counting on once fall rolls around. I’m googling youtube videos to figure out how to fix the leak underneath our kitchen sink.
My mornings don’t involve a list of God’s mercies, they involve a list of my own worries.
I’m very good at it.
I’m an expert at the quiet panic that paces around my insides as the boys rush by and our little girl tells me she misses her friends.
I can rattle off all my very specific fears and worries without even having to think very hard.
There are all the boxes we still haven’t unpacked after our move last month. The shed and the kitchen projects I’m not sure when we’ll get around to tackling. The new school my boys are starting in less than three weeks and all the school supplies I haven’t bought yet.
There’s the old white minivan with the flat tires that require pumping every morning — the same minivan who long ago said goodbye to any hope of air-conditioning. There are the fish ponds we’re not sure yet how to take care of and the mouse who must have moved in while we were on vacation because the brand new bathroom mat I bought has long shreds chewed off it — shreds that now trail up and down the halls.
I can sit in the house of my dreams and miss it all because I’m so busy counting worries.
And then that old hymn rolls around in my head and today, instead of obsessing over the sink, I start to hum the tune I’ve known since childhood. And it reminds me of the God who has loved me since long before that.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided —
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
That “All I have needed” part is what makes me stop. I come to a complete standstill. Right there in the middle of my kitchen with the slightly slanted floor.
Do I really believe that?
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Do I live like I really believe that?
I look out the window, and I can hear the cicadas. There’s a lawnmower in the distance and three very loud kids right here in front of me. And slowly another list starts to take shape in my mind.
These kids are my kids, and they’re growing up into the most fascinating tiny humans. They share their weird and quirky interests with me. They invite me into their fears, and they trust me with their insecurities. At night they lie back to back with me just because it makes them feel safe.
Just last night we built Zoe’s very first big-girl bed. She’s been sleeping in the same crib her big brother first used; it’s made the trek with us from South Africa to Michigan to Virginia and now to Maryland. And last night we moved it out of her room and I watched her climb into the bed that will rock her to sleep every night between now and teenagerhood.
I add that to the list of God’s faithfulness.
Along with the stories my boys tell of new friends at soccer camp. The neighbors who fed our fish for two weeks while we were gone. The brand new friend who comes over to fix my sink (turns out the pipe wasn’t broken, just a washer was loose). So, “learning basic home maintenance” goes on the list too.
And, of course, there are the big things like a home and clothes and warm food. But I’m waking up more to the little things — the ordinary glory of kids’ backpacks and their excitement at finding their feet in this neighborhood. Walks to the mailbox holding onto a tiny hand. Fresh chocolate chip cookies. Bike rides. New markers. Coloring books. Clothes warm out of the dryer.
His faithfulness is new every morning in a hundred different ways. On the stormy days as well as the mild ones. It’s the one thing that doesn’t change.
I so desperately want to become an expert at believing that.