So we put away our shorts and strappy tops. There was the ceremonial binning of much-worn well-loved worn-out summer sandals. The joy of rediscovering a cosy sweater one evening - and proper shoes. Exultation in that feeling of being well-dressed after a summer of short shorts, skimpy skirts and simple sandals.
It’s time. Time to grow up again. Time for routines and schedules and restoring order.
And yet. And yet there lingers a love of lazy summer days, sand between the toes, doing whatever whenever. However. It will return, we promise ourselves: next year, it will come again, but for now we are content, with our summer memories and still-golden tans, content to let the summer go, thankful for all we have done and all we have been and all we knew, for those long, long weeks.
I pull on trousers, slip a sweater over my shoulders – and drive with the roof down still, enjoying natural air conditioning after the hot, heavy, closeness of the humid summer air.
Anticipation. I almost long to sharpen my pencils ready for the new school term, to begin a fresh exercise book with its invitation and expectancy and openness and possibilities. To write my name on a new fly leaf and know I can begin afresh, in a new place with a new desk and new seat.
Time to return. Yet -
Time for a new thing.
The promise is there. I’m doing a new thing for you, says God. Don’t you see it?
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 desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18,19)
CHANGE YOUR FOCUS:
STOP LOOKING BEHIND!
START LOOKING AHEAD!
Walter Brueggmann writes of this action of God:
“It is remarkable that Israel is told to forget the old exodus narrative in order to notice the new departure. The ‘new thing’ is not only more contemporary, but also more spectacular and exhibits the power of God in more effective ways. In these verses all the accent is upon the new experience which pushes the old memory aside. It may be worth noting that in the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, in so far as Christians are concerned, the same accent is upon the new at the expense of the old. Our God is doing a new thing.”
Our God is doing a new thing.
Because the past won’t sustain us.
God says, Forget the former things, I am doing a new thing.
The children of Israel had seen God have many victories in their past. It had been a good past.
Conquering the Land of Canaan
Fighting off prospective conquerors
Surviving a split in their country
But all their previous victories were doing nothing for them in the present. They needed a new work, a new miracle, a new victory.
So the question isn’t: what has God done?
There’s no doubt about that!
The question must be:
What new thing is God doing right now?
The children of Israel had a choice to make. They were in exile, looking back at former glories. And looking back wasn’t helping. Yet all they could see in the present was problems, and their own powerlessness. They didn’t like where they were at the moment, and yet they didn’t seem to trust God to change things for them nor to want to be open to the possibilities He had in mind for them.
And so there is a choice:
They can continue as they are, nostalgic for what has been, yet not happy in the present, not trusting the Lord.
Or they can focus on what God wants to do in their lives. And God wants to do a new thing.
Can I see possibilities if God is in charge of this new thing?
We are returning to a house unsold and an unknown future. Do I believe that God is in control?Can I see possibilities if God is in charge of this new thing, this new life, this new beginning which is now beginning. A chance to start over, sharpen the pencil, open the new page, take a new seat.
Claim the new thing HE is doing for me. In me. Through me.
Returning – to a new thing. It’s in the air around us. Routines. Schedules. School. It’s time. Time to return to God and to the new thing He is doing. The beginning, not an ending.
O gracious God
Give us wisdom to perceive you
Diligence to seek you
Patience to wait for you
Eyes to behold you
A Heart to meditate upon you
And a life to proclaim you
Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord