As I examine my life today, and look forward to the transitions that will occur in the days and weeks ahead it feels as if I am caught right smack in the middle of two familiar biblical themes. The first comes from the writer of Ecclesiastes when he says,
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? Ecclesiastes 1:9-10
What has been done will be done again…we have packed our home into boxes before, we will do it again. We have loaded a moving van before…we will do it again. We have moved into a community knowing very few people before…we will do it again. We will make new friends, start new ministries, find new jobs, shape a new life in a new part of the world…nothing new under the sun.
And yet the writer of Isaiah says,
“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
Forget everything you know…I am doing a new thing! You may think you know your way through what is to come but if you would simply trust in me you would be surprised at where I take you…at what you will experience. This is something new, you have never seen or even dreamed about what I am up to today. Are you willing to fully trust, to believe that I want nothing but the very best for you? Forget what you know, do not dwell on the past…my Spirit goes before you making “a way for you in the wilderness.”
I feel caught in the middle between, “yeah, been there done that.” and “wow, this is something totally new.” There are times I am caught up in the newness and am excited by what lies ahead, other times when the lists and sheer size of what needs to be accomplished brings me back to the nothing new side of looking at where we are.
What is exciting is that both writers of the scriptures speak to the wrestling I am feeling. In Ecclesiastes the writer spends most of the book pointing out what he terms the “meaninglessness” of everything we lift up as valuable in life. In the end he concludes that the ultimate key to a life well lived is how we live in relationship with God, no matter what is going on around us.
“This is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments” Ecclesiastes 12:13
The writer of Isaiah begins chapter 43 with these words,
“this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3
No matter what comes your way…be confident because I am with you. You can enter the “new thing with confidence and peace” because I “have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
We will safely walk through this together…your task is to honor me and keep my commandments as we walk together.
Time to go pack some boxes with a renewed excitement about “the new thing God is doing”!