Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Making All Things New
By Micky Wolf
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
[2 Corinthians 5:17]
Spending some time reflecting on the past twelve months at the beginning of a new year is a good idea, however, we dare not linger there too long. It is the present moment which has the greatest potential to speak most profoundly of God’s presence in our lives.
If one word generally described 2013 for my beloved and me it would be restoration, and all that involves. Restoring our home became an immediate issue following the damage in the wake of a wild July hail storm. By the time our insurance company had assessed the situation, we realized we would need a new roof to replace one that was barely nine years old, new vinyl siding to replace the original aluminum, along with new gutters and downspouts. A total exterior redo, all of which turned out to be a long, often noisy and messy process, mostly completed the day before New Year's Eve.
Lest we had any doubt the end result of beauty and function--evidenced by the fine craftsmanship of the skilled workers--the piece de resistance was a passing comment by an astute observer: "Everything you went through has definitely been worth it!" And indeed it has, especially now as peace and quiet have returned and all evidence of the previous damage is a distant memory.
As is often the case, God wasted no time in using all of this to get my attention in a number of areas, personally and corporately.
Divine Time and Season…
As Christians, we know God has His own ideas about these two aspects of daily life. As 2013 unfolded, I wasn’t so sure the season of Lent hadn’t arrived early and decided to stay around well beyond the passing of Easter. In many ways, it seemed God had decided to do with me what others were doing to the house—tear away the damaged and the old and replace it with the new. Gosh, Lord, hadn’t we been through this dismantling enough in previous years? “No,” he responded, love and compassion evident within the still small voice, “there is more work to be done.” Ouch, ouch and ouch!
Day after day, from early light to dinner time, workers hammered and yanked, pulling off old roofing and aluminum siding, the clatter of it all ringing through the neighborhood. Thankfully, as God went about His business of showing me what needed to go in regard to my thoughts, my feelings—basically the things of my will rather than His—the work happened in a less public manner.
Most of what needed removed had to do choices I had made, or were contemplating making, that were good, but not necessarily His desire for me. I have always appreciated how Oswald Chambers addresses this issue: “The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.”
As we learn to cooperate with God’s grace to live and move in His will rather than our own, it is important to remember that in surrendering our ‘yes’ we are giving Him permission to heal, restore, and transform our hearts, thoughts, and emotions in order to more fully live what we pray—your will be done. Do we really think He will ignore or turn a deaf ear to this profession?
Patience and trust…
Weather, holidays, and other previously contracted jobs provided several delays and interruptions for the work on the house, especially throughout the siding process. My beloved and I had no control over these events. We were responsible, however, for the way we chose to respond to the various situations. Most of the time we maintained a loving attitude, yet there were those moments when we had to pause, take a deep breath and apologize for being snippy with one another amidst the relentless noise and organized chaos.
Additionally, it was the desire of my heart to persevere through the turmoil in the awareness of what God was also stripping away and restoring within me. Some evenings as I struggled to stay the course, all I could muster in a goodnight prayer was “Jesus, I trust you.” Gratefully, it is a blessing to know He receives us as we are, in the moment.
Unanswered answered questions…
Occasionally, the young contractor would tap on our door and ask a question, or report the status of their progress and anticipated next steps. Ongoing communication was most helpful. We had taken time to select colors, styles, and materials and had a general idea how things might look when they were finished, nonetheless, we wouldn’t really know until it all came together as the last nail was hammered in place, the final piece of door or window trim secured. [Can’t say enough about their efficiency and attention to detail.]
Similarly, I find myself going to God with questions or to seek clarity about how the finished product is going to turn out. Am I following His direction and desires or getting side-tracked with my agenda or the agenda of others? I need to pay attention and listen to His nudging, His whispers. Through a Scripture? A friend’s smile? Yes, even in the hail, wind, and rain of a summer thunderstorm.
The good news is when we call out to God, He answers in the time and way He knows best. The more you and I can settle into this Divine Truth, the greater the likelihood we can rest in the peace that surpasses all understanding and simply take the one next step, leaving everything else in His most capable and compassionate care.
Sure and steady…
One particular thing I noticed about the workers [most of them Amish] who were on site over the last months, was their low-key but steady commitment to completing the job. They never seemed rushed. They also took only a short break for lunch. While I’m sure they aren’t the only folks who labor hard and faithfully, they certainly demonstrated, by example, what it means to put in a full day’s labor for their wages.
We can be thankful God is as ever-present and faithful in journeying with us. While we may be tempted to believe, at times, that He is nowhere to be found or is choosing to ignore us, nothing could be further from the truth. More often than not, He is allowing our present circumstances, whether joyful or painful, to serve as the milieu through which He can restore and transform the whole of our being into something new and even more lovely than the original. Could we ask or hope for anything more from the One who loves each of us beyond anything we could ever dream possible?
How do I feel about God’s ongoing restoration of me?
What old things might need to pass away?
Can I embrace the new that is, and is to come?