My niece woke up for a bottle at 5:30am and by the time she was fed, changed and sleeping again, the sun had begun to come up and it was beautiful. The picture to the left is not the actual view, but pretty close. Just picture a few camp homes on pilings in front and a little more pink in the sky and you'll have what I saw this morning. Again, it was beautiful.
Watching the sun come up made me think of two passages of scripture...
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him. (Lamentations 3:22-24)
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time. (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10)
I thought about that question...is there anything new under the sun? I asked that question last night as I watched reports of the atrocities that are said to have happened in the Superdome. "Certainly other cities have faced what we are facing and have been put in this same position...yet I dont recall hearing of rapes and murders and people being dumped on the side of the road with no food or water in sight." "There is nothing new under the sun." was what I heard in response.
The point of the Ecclesiastes passage is to say that there is nothing new, nothing that can override or negate or fall outside of the jurisdiction of the word of God. And this is true...but there are "new" things (which in theory are not so much new as in unique or of first-occurance but renewed...always renewing or occuring...never ceasing to return) such as the mercy of God which is new every morning and the new creation that I am in Christ. There are also new things in the form of a renewed mind, a changed heart, a different perspective on circumstances, new levels of sanctification and holiness, etc.
Indeed, the Lord makes all things new...but often that newness comes at a price: death. Whether it be actual physical death, death to self, death to sin, the death of a circumstance, relationship, season of life...death or some form of loss usually comes before newness.
Our pastor did a series which touched on this idea of having to die to live, to grow, to become something better. He used the example of a seed. When you put a seed in the ground it dies. It stops being a seed but becomes a plant or tree and bears fruit. It can't do that as a seed - it has to die first. We are called to do the same thing. We must die, as Paul says, daily to become what it is God intends for us to be. I had to die to gluttony to gain freedom. I had to die to my idea of church life to get where I am in my walk. I am still being called to die to my preferences and hurts and past experiences to walk in a manner worthy and grow in grace. Had I not died to any of those things, i'd still be where I was: a seed on concrete wanting to be a tree, but unwilling to die to make it so.
But God...But God saw me and nudged me into the soil and I began to die...and at the same time become something new.
Right now a lot of people in my "neck of the woods" are facing new things and being called to die to what was before and embrace this new thing...new way of life...and in many cases, new places to live. I have to confess that the prospect of months of this life isn't exciting to me. What is even less exciting is the prospect of permanent change. There is a possibility that my family may relocate. My parents are discussing it and (worse) my brother and sister-in-law are discussing it. If that happens I will have to make a choice about where I want to live. Do I want to stay here with the church I love and the job I know is secure, or venture elsewhere to be close to my family.
The only reason I am not fretting over this is because I know, ultimately, the decision is not mine to make. The Lord will make His way plain. He has been very effective in preparing me for and leading me into each new thing...and I have no doubt that He will continue to be equally effective in this. I also know that, though each new thing has been hard (death is never fun) they have all turned out for the good...and in most cases for the wonderful. The Lord is so kind.