It is often said, “people hate change”. A truer statement might be: “people hate to be changed” or, “people hate to have changes forced on them”. It is true we are creatures of routine – whether as children with our bedtime ritual, our breakfast routine, or our celebration of special holidays. We all like certain routines and rituals. And yet we also like a certain amount of spontaneity and diversity in our lives. There are times when we get in a rut and we need to mix it up a little with change.
We live in a world of change and the dawn of a new year brings with it both the symbol of change along with real changes. This year new things will happen. Let me turn your attention to Isaiah 43:14-21.
14 This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride.15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.” 16 This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 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. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
In verses 14 and 15 we witness a reflection on the Babylonian siege, conquest, and exile and then God says that the Babylonians will change from being the conquerors to being conquered. In verses 16-21 we see how God, who in the first exodus brought Israel out of Egypt and drowned the Egyptians, will do an even greater thing. Therefore, forget the past, as God will bring about a return along with an ultimate exodus when the Messiah returns to gather his people.
So God says, “don’t dwell on the past”. In fact, don’t even dwell on the present. God says: “See, I am doing a new thing!”
I understand that this is a focused message for Israel, but there is an axiom frequently evidenced in Scripture: In a dramatically changing world God often does “new things”. This is evidenced more fully in Luke 5:33-39 with Jesus’ teaching on wineskins. Jesus’ arrival brought the revelation of truths which needed to be presented in some fresh ways. When the world radically changes God often does new things and starts new systems, new ministries, new expressions, and does new things in us and with us. No, God doesn’t change. He is an anchor of unchanging character and virtue. He is our Rock. But he is also a creative God that takes old truths and wraps them in new packaging and entrusts ministry to a new generation. As we move into 2014 let’s do so well anchored in the things that should anchor us, but welcoming new opportunities to grow, serve, and invest in the next generation of leaders. Let’s welcome some “new things” from the Lord and be sure to be partners in that work.
It’s going to be a great year!