The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
~ Lamentations 3:23-24
This week I have been leading a group of junior high youth at the Disciple Oaks Camp and Retreat Center in Gonzales, Texas. It is a place where I have come throughout my nearly two decades of serving along the Texas Gulf. I, like this place, has changed over the years. I am always so thankful when my journey crosses this place.
We are all on a journey of one type or another, whether we realize it, or not. Sometimes we just have to stop and think about what the journey looks like. One thing is for certain, God has blessed this week's journey.
As I shared in our discussion yesterday, being the Ecclesiastical people that we are, this week's journey has been part of a chapter that began and ended in a short period. However, it is one of those milestone moments that will remain a memory in years to come.
There is something about every visit that I make to this place that I remember. Nearly twenty years ago I had just graduated from seminary and had only been in Texas a few months when I first was invited to come on a clergy retreat to this place. Still being developed, the place was very remote, being "Deep in the heart of Texas," as one might say.
The leaders of that first retreat shared a vision that they had in their minds about this place, and what it meant to sit beside the still waters and to experience Christ.
I realize how I have grown with this place, as those who originally had the vision have since died, and I am blessed to open my eyes and see the reality of their dreams.
For the youth just beginning their life-journey with this place, I realize, like those first leaders, I will be part of their journey with this place, and that one day I too, will be a part of the tapestry of their memories when they look back.
So often that we forget that when God first came to Moses, God proclaimed to be the God, "I AM." It has taken me a long time to completely understand what that means. But then, I come back to a place, recall a memory, and suddenly, I find that the God of that moment is still the God who is present with me now.
God's ability to endure forever in our hearts is the reality of the mercy that Jeremiah writes about in Lamentations. In a place in time when Israel was in chaos, and only remnants of hope remained. Jeremiah reminds us that God's mercies are forever. In the Hebrew language, the word for "mercies" means that there exists a covenant of love, compassion and hope that will always forever be available to us.
It's not so much as looking back to the past, it is opening our hearts to the present, and welcoming those mercies once again.
I hope that among the memories that have been created this is, one lesson remains. Each day we get that chance to live out that covenant. Each day is a new opportunity. No matter what yesterday was like, today is the promise of a God who proclaims to be not a God of the past, but the present who says, "I AM."
Like many of the youth this morning, I am both glad to have had this week, a little sad that it has come to an end, but thankful that tomorrow I will welcome a new day and the next journey that God has for me.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, help me to remember that each day is a new day, with new opportunities and chapters to be written. Thank You for always being present while I live out my life's journey. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.