All Things New
Coming out of one of the coldest, most frozen and snowy winters I’ve experienced in 23 years of living near Chicago, I am ready for spring. Spring is all about NEW. Everything that has been dead and cold begins to come to life! New sunrises in early morning fog. New puddles to drive through, washing old salt away. New green appearing amongst the brown grass and brown branches. A renewed sense of community as neighbors emerge from the winter’s shut-in and basketball games and bicycle races can be seen down the street. Birds feel the change, releasing their joy in warbling, diving, chasing one another through treetops. New songs filter through the rolled-down windows on an afternoon drive. And with each awakening a new sense of hope bubbles up…you find yourself singing in the shower, humming randomly in grocery isles, walking taller…even skipping!…and breathing deeply the fresh, warm air. Now, admittedly, there will be rainy days, chilly nights, muddy/soggy grass. The full explosion of summer is still a ways off. But it’s started…NEW has begun.
A couple of months ago, I completed the above mural for our church. It’s a combination of three verses that center on that theme of NEW. As part of the design, I wanted to emphasize the I Am, not only because this is the name God tells Moses to say when explaining Who sent him. But I wanted to emphasize that God himself is the one who does the hard work of changing us. The cold winters of this world harden us. Our choices and stubborn disobedience leave us wounded, scarred, calloused. God is the surgeon who “will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). We are so dead that He basically has to start over! – New Heart (adjusting our thoughts, emotions, and the decisions we make based off of those), New Spirit (renewing our inmost being), New Creation (our nearest friends and relatives might not recognize us when He’s done…if they do, they’ll notice the change).
I work with the 8th-grade mentoring program at church, and there is a quote in our mentoring packet which says, “God loves you just the way you are; but He loves you too much to leave you as you are.” This work of making us NEW isn’t simply a one-shot deal when we give our lives to Christ. It’s a process…the fancy word is sanctification, which could be defined as: being made more holy, or being set apart for a special purpose. Can God use the broken, the dirty, the messed up? Of course! – He wouldn’t have much to work with otherwise. However, He calls us to be holy…to be like Him. Being too dead and broken to change ourselves, we must turn to Him. It’s a daily thing, a yearly thing, a lifelong process of learning to live, learning to breathe, enjoying the fresh air that is a life walked next to our I Am. It’s preparation for the full explosion to come – the explosion of Heaven where ALL things are always NEW!