On Firsts

It’s my daughter’s first day at a summer job. The job is a miracle; a gift in an economy unkind to students, new graduates and 55-year-old men and women who have been laid off.

Firsts are hard. First days of school with their stomach-ache and tight new shoes; first days of jobs with their need to make a good impression; a first kiss with awkward lips meeting for the first time, the excitement coupled with sheer terror at moving into a new place in the relationship.

But there’s something I love about firsts.  It’s in the hyper-awareness I experience of everything around me. The attention to detail, the adrenaline that pumps, the feeling of accomplishment that I actually got to the place I was supposed to and logged on to a computer, or found my boss. That feeling at the end of my first day that “I did it!”. That honeymoon stage where despite everything being new, I feel truly alive. That’s what I envy of my daughter’s first day.

It is a contrast to the mundane where I think I know everything and I go through life on autopilot, sometimes not even recognizing new if it’s staring me in the face.

It was in the grey of November last year, a grey that comes after the brilliance of fall, that I longed again for a first. For a beginning. And in my case it was a spiritual beginning. My faith was old and stale; stale like the old bread on my counter that crumbles as you pick it up. So stale that preservatives are no longer effective. Not even fresh butter and home-made jam can take away the staleness.

I knew all the things I should do; I knew about Bible study and prayer, about connecting with people and service, about waiting and patience. But knowing those things was part of the problem. I needed to go back to a first – a first love. I needed to remember a place where all was new, each word, each concept, each discipline.

And so I started with the Beginning. I decided that I would read the Bible as though I’d never read it. I would have no schedule, there would be no rules, there would be no mantras – I would just read.

I began at Genesis and I began to read. And I read and read and read some more. When I stopped I left a piece of paper marking the spot. I didn’t write or journal, I just read. And pretty soon creation and the fall were over and I was into Exodus, and I continued to read. I read things I don’t remember ever reading, I felt no pressure or guilt, I just read.

And as I read an extraordinary thing happened. I began to feel like this was a first. It was like I was seeing these words for the first time. The adrenaline began pumping and I was hyper aware. Truth entered into stale, new entered into old, I felt I was reborn.

It is the end of June and I have just entered Samuel. The wordless petition of Hannah is over and Samuel has just heard the voice of God. It was his first. 

4 thoughts on “On Firsts

  1. I often sing to myself in my devotions a very old hymn:

    “New every morning is the love/ Our wakening and uprising prove;/Through sleep and darkness safely brought,/Restored to life and power and thought.

    If on our daily course our mind/Be set to hallow all we find,/New treasures still, of countless price,/ God will provide for sacrifice.

    Old friends, old scenes will lovelier be,/As more of heaven in each we see;/Some softening gleam of love and prayer/ Shall dawn on every cross and care.”

    There are other verses, but I don’t want to take too much space. Thought it fitted with the notion that indeed each day is a new start/opportunity!

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  2. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing this viewpoint with us! There was a time in my life several years ago that I did the same; found myself at a dry place, decided to read the Bible over again with new eyes, and today I can say that my life has taken a totally different direction because of that. God works in mysterious ways – we need to be alive to His voice! Thanks again!

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  3. Will I be the first to leave a comment, Marilyn? Thank you for this perspective. I want to remember that every day is a FIRST, a new beginning, not like yesterday or any other day. Fresh new opportunities are waiting. “Morning has broken like the first morning….”

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