And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better. (Luke 5:37-39 KJV)
New beginnings. When thoughts of starting anew come to mind, I see a clean slate-starting from scratch with no preconceived ideas of what or how things should be. What excitement and adventure this thought stirs in my soul! Over the past few months, thoughts of a new beginning have loomed in the background of my life. I know it’s time, but what do I do next?
Fortunately, I don’t have to bear responsibility of answering that question, as God has done this for us. Jesus often spoke to His followers in parables, and like some puzzled at His words, the above passage from Luke 5 is one that I found a bit puzzling when I first read it. It is about a new beginning in life with Him. I love the imagery of being born again. Wow- a new beginning at any point in life through Christ! I can picture the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus when Jesus tells him that only by being born again can he enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ words must have confused him, excited him, or at least piqued his interest. While he was thinking literally, Jesus was speaking spiritually.
Just as Nicodemus, we often look at God’s word literally, while He is speaking to us of spiritual concerns. He invites each of us to live a new and glorious life led by His Holy Spirit. We respond to the Spirit’s leading and experience salvation. How wonderful! But as time passes, God leads us in various directions to fulfill our purposes and we experience new beginnings, again!
The passage from Luke 5 also tells me that to truly have a new beginning, I must leave the old experiences behind. They were good for their time, something new is here for today. How can I truly experience a new beginning if I carry the new in something meant for the old? It simply don’t fit. Both the new and the old would collide, resulting and a mess!
New beginnings are about change-unspoiled possibilities. Places I have never walked before and things I have never thought of doing. It’s all about purity and becoming a better and better me (new wine) that God saw at creation (See Jer.1:5). It’s about a new relationship with God that far exceeds the one I now hold. A newness and freshness of His Holy presence.
I cannot expect true newness if I carry old expectations onto the new. It will be different. And I must acclimate myself to the changes that come with the new territory, whether the changes come in the form of new ministry opportunities, new relationships, a new job, or starting over in presents situations. This idea of freshness is demonstrated well in the manna that God rained down for heaven for the Israelites while walking through the desert. A family could only collect enough for one day’s sustenance- if too much was taken, then it would rot, becoming useless (the old). You get the picture.
New beginnings require much patience and dedication. Reviving what was once dead or dying is often painful and difficult. Imagine going to a new place that is unlike any place you have experienced before that demands real love, true acceptance, more humility, and immovable faith. If I look back at the perceived golden yesteryears of the past and expect the present or the future to be the same, then I don’t have a grasp on the purpose of the new.
I look forward with great anticipation at what God is doing, what He is creating, and where He will take us. He always calls us upward, never downward, foreword, never backward. Doors of opportunity are opening and I am beside myself at what God is doing! For once, I refuse to worry about all the other issues of life. I have always tried to balance God’s work with what I had to do and that has not worked out. I can’t balance a spoon on my nose much less all the tasks and responsibilities of life. I have been trying to do what only God can helps me do, creating a frustrated mess!
I do not think that I am the only person He is calling to newness. His clarion call goes out to whosoever will respond to Him- no holds barred. He is an equal opportunity God.
At present I am preparing for the new, encountering changes, and becoming that new vessel for the new wine. When Paul was inspired to write “behold all things become new”, that was not simply a one-time event. It was a lifelong call to change, by becoming closer and closer to the One we love- Jesus. God is calling you upward, what are you waiting for? May you embrace the changes necessary to fulfill your life in Christ. His blessings on you as you follow Him!
Christians: What I say to one, I say to all- come closer to Me so that I may change you onto who I planned you to be. Change is the necessary ingredient of growth and development. Learn to embrace it, not hate it. Desire the good life in Christ Jesus!