Tuesday, April 09, 2019

God's New Thing

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

I was reading this yesterday, just before a friend told me she was packing up and heading off to different climes. Her children had all grown up. She has quit her job. All the things that come with the job, all the benefits, the retirement package – just right now she is cutting them loose.

I never quite has the courage to do that. That’s actually not true. I did quit my job for a while. I joined a gospel outreach mission for a year. Was it the best year of my life? No. It was a good year, a year to celebrate an adventure in faith. Other years, that came after were as good. I don’t want to forget the former things – not those good things. I don’t want to be always hankering for the good old days as if today can never measure up.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness…” (Malachi 3:3)

I also read these words from Malachi. The people of God had been in exile and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple. They were getting disheartened. They felt that whatever they built would never measure up to the temple that Solomon built. Worship would never reach the lofty heights of a holy smoke filled room, the building shaking and the people falling to their knees in awe. That was all in the past. Things were different now and they simply had to adjust to something “less than” what went before.

I’m not sure that God said then that it would all work out right in the end. He gave them a stern talking to. Their attitude was less than positive and their actions were half hearted at best, down right contemptuous at worse.

These were the people that Isaiah was speaking to, long before they went into exile. He told them they would go, but it wouldn’t be forever because God had a plan. They had lost sight of the plan God had.  The old things held their attention – the good old days that weren’t so good at all.

New things? I admit that I’m not always the adventurous kind. My friend choosing to down tools, to waiver pension payments and all the world says will bring security – her actions have made me thing that the comfortable nest I have built is perhaps falling short of what God intended for me. I have downed tools. I retired and got myself a bus pass. So much time now. So much time to do the things God has set aside for me to do. I’m not supposed to keep on building the nest.

New things?  

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins." (Mark 2:22)

An old wineskin doesn’t become a new one – not ever. Old is old. The leather is less malleable. There are cracks. It needs to be replaced. God reminded me that I’m not an old wineskin. I stopped being one when I entered into a covenant with Him. What was old was done with. Tossed away as not needed.

“So,” said God, “you are a new wineskin – except you are not behaving like one. You are a new wineskin that thinks it’s old. You are soft leather. You are flexible. You can expand when the new thing comes. Except you’re not. What you are and what you think you are – you’re not in harmony with yourself. Everything is a battle and it shouldn’t be.”


It’s entirely possible
To be an old wineskin
That thinks itself new
You spread out ready
For the new wine
Except you can’t stretch
Too set in your way
Unable to bend, you break
And the wine is lost

It’s entirely possible
To be a new wineskin
That thinks itself old
You could spread out ready
For the new wine
Except you don’t
Too afraid of the adventure
Able to bend, unlikely to break
But the wine is never shared

It is the truth
You are a new wineskin
Reckon yourself new
Stretch and spread
For the new wine is
Coming now – right now
Embrace the adventure
Bend with the Spirit
Share the wine

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