I was an excellent student in grade school...my only poor subject was handwriting, which anyone who ever receives a hand-written note from me will certainly understand. I regularly made straight "A's" and loved school. That excellence continued in junior high, in spite of home struggles.
High school was another story. To say that I got off to a rocky start would be an understatement. In fact, I barely passed two subjects during my sophomore year. I could probably blame a couple of mismatched teachers or even more honestly a terrible home situation, but the truth is that I am the only one to blame for the difficulty that I had in that first year in high school. But I was able to recover and actually graduated with honors as well as being in the top ten percent of my class and selected as one of the outstanding seniors of my class.
And then came college.
The best way that I can describe my college experience is to say that I didn't let college interfere with my education. I applied myself to those subjects that I was interested in and generally blew off those subjects and professors that I didn't care for. As with my first year of high school I could cast blame on others, but the truth is that my poor academic performance is no ones fault but my own. In fact, as I approached graduation (yes, they actually let me graduate) I made the decision not to attend graduate school because I knew that I was not ready for that experience on any level.
In fact, it took me sixteen years to finally begin graduate school. So much changed in me over that period of time. I married and my wife and I had six children. We were pregnant with children number seven the day we moved onto campus, and child number eight came along during the midway point of our time in graduate school. I worked three jobs to provide for my family during those years. If you would allow me to be proud for a moment. I graduated with the highest grade point of my entire academic career, with only a handful of grades that were less than an "A."
And I can take virtually none of the credit for it.
You may be wondering why I am bothering to bore you with this information....What does this have to do with you or the price of tea in China?
Very simply, this: While my academic career was built upon foundations laid from grade school on, the success or failure of those endeavors had a limited impact on my success or failure at the next level. You would not have guessed during my sophomore year in high school that I would have gone on to college, much less graduate school. And you certainly would never have guessed during my college years that I would ever even attempt to go to graduate school, much less be successful. My academic past was not truly indicative of my academic future. A fact for which I am extremely grateful.
Too many of us are bound by the past. We can give you an up to the minute rundown of every mistake we've ever made, every failure, every person we've ever offended or let down. We don't believe that we deserve anything good that might come our way.
But that's not true.
God loves us with an all consuming, never ending, passionate love that desires to pour out every blessing on us that He can. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that He makes His mercies new everyday. You see, God blesses us not because we deserve it, but because He wants to.
Think on that for a minute....God wants to bless you.
Every day God gives to us new mercies, not recycled, not slightly used, not lovingly worn mercies. He makes His mercies brand new! When He gives them to us they are brand new...never used...never before seen. They are the newest, freshest expressions of His love for us. My worth is not found in my academic success but in the value that God gives to me. He values me enough that He sent His Son to die for me and to give me a brand new set of mercies every day.
High School was a new start for me, so was college...and to be honest, I didn't do as well as I could have. It wasn't until graduate school that I began to grow into the man that I am still becoming. I am grateful for those new starts and what they taught me along the way.
God gives us a new start through His Son and then gives us new mercies every day. Not because we've earned them or deserve them, but because of who He is.
I hope that you'll remember that frequently during 2015.
God bless you.