Happy New Day
Come with me to the city of Acts. I want you to meet someone. We’ll take the subway down to the corner of 7th and 58th to a great deli. Cheesecake’s half a foot tall. After we push back from the deli counter, with full stomachs and empty plates, if you take a look out the window, you can see him.
He’s young, not much older than you. And he’s clearly stirred up about something, pumping his fist in the air. He’s got his whole life in front of him, but on this day, his gaze is arrested by what is directly in front of him.
As we walk out the deli door, it’s all we can do not to trip over the mound of coats lying at his feet. That’s when he turns toward us and we see his eyes. There’s a fire in his eyes that seems to burn all the way through his soul. And that’s when we see what brought him to that corner on that day.
There’s a bloodthirsty mob one block down, at the corner of 7th and 59th, with stones in their hands and murder in their hearts. They’ve surrounded a Christian named Stephen and they won’t leave until they’ve thrown the last stone or Stephen has breathed his last breath.
But on a crisp day like this one, why aren’t they wearing coats? Surely they brought their coats. Wait a minute. Could these coats—the ones on the sidewalk that this young man is guarding like a hawk—be theirs? That’s when he sees our confusion and hands us his card.
The name’s Saul. As the others finish off Stephen, he high fives them and hands them their coats, calling each one by name. We read his card and read that Saul makes his living persecuting Christians. He’s done this before and, doubtless will do it again.
From the card, we see he’s got an office in the city of Acts at the corner of 8th and 3rd, and that’s where we read his resumé. Acts 8:3, “Saul made havock of the church, entering every house, dragging off men and women and committing them to prison.”
Before we had a chance to ask him why, he was already gone. Headed for the city of Damascus because there are more Christians there, and he’s made it his mission to make sure every Christian is behind bars or buried at the end of the day.
But Saul doesn’t realize he’s about to take a routine ride to Damascus, and God is about to shine a light that will knock him from his horse to his knees. Change his name, change his life, and give him a gift he didn’t ask for. God is about to give him a new day.
God changed Saul, the persecutor of Christians, into Paul, the pastor of Christians. He forgave his sins, erased his past, and gave him a fresh future. A blank board on which to write the rest of his life. And all on a routine ride to Damascus.
I wish I could change like that, L.J., but I know better because they know me. We’ve been in school together since we played on swing sets. They know the stuff I’ve tried. The jokes I’ve told. That may be true, but that was yesterday. This is today. And thanks be to God, today is a new day.
God doesn’t need the turn of a calendar page, which is great news because not every day is January 1. But it is nice to know that with a New Year, comes a new day. And the Scripture promises the mercies of the Lord will be new every morning. With every sunrise, the Judge of the Earth gift wraps mercy and grants a new day so we can be better than we were, and do better than we did yesterday.
If you didn’t pray this year, change that this weekend. If you struck out reading the Bible reading chart this year, pick up the chart or download the app and pick up now where you left off then.
If you’ve been silent when you should have spoken, or stood there when you should have walked away, don’t wait until the bell rings to signal the start of school next year. Ask God to give you the courage to stand today. To speak up today. To share your faith today. To tell your testimony today.
And thank God for the gift He gift wraps with the light of the rising sun every day. Every day, God gives us a new day.