Yesterday was the 1st day of school for my three youngest. According to my calculations, this was the 36th first day of school for one of the kids. There are so many joys in that 1st day: you get to show off your new clothes and school supplies; you get to see your old friends and share what you did during summer vacation; you anticipate new opportunities; and you are one more year closer to graduation. There are also so many anxieties about the 1st day: can I handle the new responsibilities; will I remember the details of my new schedule; who will sit with me for lunch; or can I open my locker?
We all face what amounts to “the 1st day of school” joys and anxieties in every station of life. There is the 1st day of marriage, the 1st day of parenting, the 1st day of a new job, the 1st day of a new home, the 1st day of empty-nesting, the 1st day of grand parenting, the 1st day of retirement and the 1st day of mourning. All these milestones are days of joy and anxiety. It is as if life is a series of photo shoots on the front porch where we put on a brave face and swallow our fears of the great unknown.
As I recall, 1st days are the worst – the anxieties always outweigh the joys. The questions we ask in the 1st days are more numerous than the promises we make to ourselves. But the next day is usually better and the next day better still. Before we know it the new things we worried about become the old things we find comfort in and we settle down into a good place. We stop getting lost and start finding shortcuts. We stop looking at the schedule and start remembering where we are headed next. Life gets easier and we begin to see the benefits of new things…until the next “1st day” arrives.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22–24 (NIV)
Hold onto the ancient promise given through Jeremiah – God’s compassions (His aching for our good) never cease; they are fresh every morning…even those “1st day of school” mornings. God is always faithful, He always provides whatever He promises whenever we truly have need. He is ever working out our worries into wonders and our anxieties into amazements. Perhaps you are feeling that your present “1st day” is too heavy; remember that God’s love will be freshly showered upon you when you wake and will continue to shower upon you all throughout the day. This 1st day may be the 1st day of something even greater than you can imagine.
Finally, as we face the 1st day of school, I ask you to pray for the teachers, aides and administrators who are giving their time and (increasingly) their treasures to educate our children. Pray for their wisdom and safety as they work. Pray for them: it is their 1st day of school, too.