group at assessment

Yet This I Call to Mind

Jan 25, 2022

A few weeks ago, I became a cliché. One afternoon, as I wandered the aisles at Target, I ended up purchasing materials to start a bullet journal.

If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal idea, it’s basically journaling for people with short attention spans (like myself). It’s ideal for tracking habits, keeping lists, and justifying the purchase of lots of pretty markers. It’s actually a pretty cool idea – but the reason it made me a cliché is because I purchased the journal on January 1. You know, new year, new me, and all that.

When I unloaded my goods at home, my husband gave a knowing smirk. This is not the first time I’ve started the year with brand new, aesthetically pleasing paper goods and fine-tipped markers in every shade of the rainbow. In fact, it’s probably the fifth time I’ve done this – and I’ll give you one guess as to how often I’ve ever gotten past March with my calendars and meal plans and consistency.

And we all know why. Just because the clock changes hands at 11:59pm on December 31 and starts a new year doesn’t mean that anything is ACTUALLY starting over. As humans, we love to cling to the idea that the start of a new year somehow also signifies the start of something new in ourselves, but more often than not, that fails to be the case.

I may have a pretty new journal, but I also still have issues with anger. I might remember to keep track of how much water I drink, but that doesn’t mean I won’t forget to reschedule appointments for weeks on end. I may love checking things off of my, “Things I’ve been putting off” list, but I can’t put a check in my “rejection sensitivity” box and pretend that it no longer exists.

For all intents and purposes, January 1 is simply the first day of a new year filled with 365 more days for me to be exactly who I’ve always been.

An encouraging reflection eighteen days into a new year, I know. But it’s usually around this point each year that I find myself crying out like Paul in Romans, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” 

And if that was the end of his lament, this would be the end of the blog. “Too bad, nothing can change, so just don’t bother.” Two years into this exhausting pandemic (and thirty some years into the day-to-day), I too often crash onto my pillow at night with that fatalistic mindset.

But thankfully, thankfully – Paul gives us the answer along with his question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

It may be (ok, it IS) true that January 1 often leads to more disappointment than it does satisfaction. But as followers of Jesus, receivers of His hope, we also know that:
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.
Lamentations 3:22-23
Every morning, God’s mercies are new. An oft-quoted verse, of course – the kind that is easy to roll our eyes at and rush past. But on this and every day, a promise – that perhaps January 1 did not bring the change we hoped to see, the healing we’ve been longing for, the miracle for which we’ve been praying – but that January 18 and March 2 and June 24 and December 31 are all new days, the start of something new – new mercies, new things, new compassion from the Creator of our hearts. There is no limit on when and how things can change in the economy of mercy, no strictures declaring that if we miss out or mess up or stumble we must wait to try again.

Today is the start of a new year – and tomorrow is, too. And on each of these days, may we remember that God is a God of new things. May we pray this year for His new mercies to flood each one of us as we wake; for his new mercies to surround those who feel surrounded, to lift up the oppressed, to strengthen weak hands and anxious hearts; for his new mercies to breathe new life into old lungs. May we begin to see each day as a new chance to behold the new things God is doing – and may we pray for Him to show us how we can play a part.

It’s true that my bullet journal may not be long for this world – yet this I call to mind and therefore, I have hope: His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

Josie Barton

Josie Barton


Josie Barton was on the launch team of a church plant in Baltimore in 2013, and as a result, has come to learn first-hand the immense value of church planting and the hard work the job entails. She and husband Trevor were married in 2012, and they now have three incredible boys – Abbott, Branch, and Calder.