It's January 4th and I suppose I should have posted this blog on January 1 as it addresses "all things new" but I needed a minute. I really had to think about 2017 before I could set my sights on 2018. Do you ever look at a situation or think on a time and a Bible verse comes to mind? As I think of 2017 the one verse that comes to my mind is Ecclesiastes 1:9 which says:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
As every 2017 news report came out of violence or sexual harassment, I would mutter under my breath, "There's nothing new under the sun..." and probably not in the most holy way, but in a bit of cynical, snarky way. More gun shots, more crazy and more headlines that should shock but don't. Frankly, by the time revelation came of Al Franken and Matt Lauer I was tired and almost unaffected. Sad. Instead of thinking of anything hopeful in these situations, I thought, "Oh well, this isn't new." But I don't think God included Ecclesiastes 1:9 to allow for complacency, apathy, or cynicism. I think God was showing us that nothing surprises Him, nor should it surprise us, and we should not focus on age old sin and bad behavior or messy mankind but the newness that God wants to bring about because He is all about newness.
We are bombarded this month with "New Year, New You" campaigns for food plans, fitness, Bible reading plans, personal renewal etc etc. January seems like a great time for this because we just celebrated the new thing of Jesus - the newness of grace and mercy brought to Earth in a meek and mild bodily form. Jesus ushered in an age of grace, mercy and justice that was so new it was unbelievable to many but so radical many risked all to follow.
Throughout Scripture, God promises newness and tells us to make way for the new. In Leviticus, He commanded, "You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new." Make way for new even though it seems like nothing is new. In Isaiah when the people were relying on old ways and old idols God said:
You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.
God's people were tired. Over and over their headlines featured complacency, idol worship, sin problems, captivity, political unrest, and family dysfunction. Sounds so familiar, right? We're not so different, we just have more technology and Pinterest to make it all look prettier. As a nation and individuals we go back to old, bad habits instead of relying on and running to the God who promises to care for us in the most loving way. Sometimes it feels easier to sit in the old sin and feel sorry and angry at our situations than to think God cares enough to change us.
Instead of eye rolling at the current state of affairs, whether it be national or personal, God invites us to let Him restore us. It's just what He does. He even showed us the future when John wrote down His revelation of Jesus Christ and there is more newness awaiting us. Revelation 21:4-6 says:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment..."
It's not hokey or cliche to crave newness. Because we are made in God's image, we desire newness and something better. We desire that all things be made right and just. We desire to love and be lovely. We desire to care and be cared for. We desire grace and forgiveness. And that's just what Jesus brought with every breath on the cross and every drop of blood shed. We tend to read His words on the cross as fluid, full sentences but lately I've realized because of His excruciating pain and suffering His words probably came one at a time. One word with every breath..."Forgive....them....for....they....know...not...
what....they....do." Every new breath brought a new word of grace.
So what's going to be new for you in 2018? Look beyond pounds and counting carbs and more organized closets. Look forward to the Lord creating in us new hearts as He promises in Ezekiel 36:26:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh...
This is my prayer: Create in us a new heart, God. That we would desire to be a as loving and grace-filled as your Son Jesus. That we would love because You loved us first. Thank you for promising to make all things new for us, Amen.