All Things New

imageWhen I was a child, we always had dinner together at the round table in our kitchen. Sitting here now, I can picture in my mind a handful of signature dishes my mom prepared for us regularly…like that creamy tuna casserole that was a staple in the diet of every family in the 70’s. Like sloppy joes, meatloaf, and the dreaded shepherd’s pie. Can I get an amen?!

Things have changed so much.

Back in the day, we could count on these meals, the product of mom’s labor of love, as if she had penciled them in on a monthly rotation on her secret calendar. It was her repertoire. There was more of a variety and always something new when it came to  desserts. After all, she was the Martha Stewart of cakes, cookies and countless sugary delectables we couldn’t wait to devour. But those weeknight dinners were as regular and predictable as the seasons.

And that’s ok.

In all that’s chaotic, shifting, topsy-turvy in the world today, it would be comforting to know exactly what was going to happen from day to day, like those routines we all easily grow fond of. Rituals. Traditions. Habits.

But often, we get stuck in the rut of those familiar ways. This produces a mechanical, almost robotic motion as we muddle through our days. It’s as if we’re not paying attention, not deliberately choosing, like flipping on the auto-pilot switch.  Walking on the worn-out printed shoe patterns we’ve laid down on the polished path of our daily life. Never thinking, contemplating. Maybe even bawking at anything that doesn’t resemble our own personal norm, much less anticipating something new.

Something new.

“…he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

It’s not good to be stagnant, not growing. We can be so stuck in a pattern of “how it’s always been” that we aren’t flexible, but hardened to the idea of being pliable for God to do a new thing in our lives. In the life of a believer, this is the redeeming factor that will set us apart – to be made daily into the image of Christ. And that’s not going to happen if our minds and hearts are stubbornly positioned to cling to the “old thing.”

The struggle is real. I know.

I enjoy reminiscing about childhood favorites, warm memories of home, family, church, and everything that exemplifies love and happiness from the past. It’s good to remember. To be reminded. Even remembering the not-so-good has its rewards. To recognize how far we’ve gone, grown, been healed. The Lord’s faithfulness is celebrated in remembering His presence during hard times, His goodness when people weren’t, His strength when we are weak. Holding on to the best memories, repeating the traditions, carrying on the lessons from hardships…are part of who we are, who we become.

But I am longing to see, to be near, to be joyful in what He’s doing NOW. I want to get excited as I pray many times for something or someone and anticipate the creative way He’ll answer. I say “Surprise me Lord!” And, since His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts….He WILL surprise us! Let your eyes and heart be open to recieve the blessing of God’s ministry, that is always doing a new thing. Turn your gaze from the old ways, the beaten path. Look forward with eagerness in the ordinary moments, to how He will use you, how He will speak to you and bless you through someone else, through a missed appointment, a sudden change, a seemingly impossible situation.

God works in mysterious ways. Though He’s ever faithful and we can trust His character….we can never predict how He will so beautifully take our pitiful ashes and turn them into masterpieces. Sometimes it will be our choice to go a new direction but other times He may have to shut a door to block our steps. Either way, when we venture out in this new direction, we’ll be amazed by the power and depth of His love. Love so pure that He can’t stand by and watch us remain the same, unchanged, stuck.

There’s something to be said for “going with the flow.” A certain degree of flexibility is like well-prepared garden soil – making fertile ground for new things to grow. Start small. Try a new restaurant. Take a road trip to a small town outside of your county and explore. Be patient when plans get cancelled and ask the Lord, “what next?!” Look for opportunities to talk to someone you don’t already know. Bridge the gap between you and another person. Forgive. Share a meal with a stranger. Join a group study or class. The possibilities are as endless as the sky.

Are you looking? Do you hope for something new? Step out in faith instead of using an outdated map. Can you smell change in the air? I do! Or maybe it’s just mom’s casserole waiting for me in the kitchen. 🙂