Monday, November 20, 2017

This Isn't the "Newness" I Signed Up For

I would have been with my siblings the week I first started writing this post, but life got in the way. Instead I spent it cleaning...and writing...and caring. Cleaning and writing because I can control those activities. Caring because I love. However, I am getting ahead of my story. Let's begin with "newness." 

My small 8 am church family begins each new year with the tradition of picking a star. The stars are taped all over church with the words hidden. I chose this star because I liked the glittery silver color. When I turned the star around, I liked the word even more. I like "new" -- not more than "old"; rather, I like "new" as much as I like "old." 

In that time of winter becoming spring, I ran into the word "new" in so many places, and my heart embraced each one. Isaiah 43:18 -- "Behold I am doing a new thing." Lamentations 3:23 -- "God's mercies are new every morning."

Then, spring became summer. Nothing new happened this summer. Nothing. Except. Days of depression! Depression hung around me like the cloud over Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh books. Fear, I know; depression, I do not, at least not like this. I have had a day of being "down", "blue", depressed, but I could usually attribute it to something: a situation, a cloudy day, a drop or elevation of hormones. I tried to blame the depression on cloudy days. We had a few, yet on some sunny days I might as well have had Eeyore's personal cloud over me! I pushed back. Believe me, I tried every trick on my Pinterest boards! Then it occurred to me that it was the first summer I could think of when I did not have something going on, something to look forward to. My work slows down in the summer. My children are grown, and I did not even have my grandchildren with me as often as in the past. I wasn't going to school, and I wasn't traveling. 

I wasn't being used by God. It turns out that I'm okay with not being used by God. In April of 2016, one of my teachers taught on the fallacy of believing God USES us. We use forks and spoons, and power tools, and pencils. I find it difficult to be around people who "use" people, but somehow a theory of a God who "uses" people persists. Still those of us in attendance were a bit startled at the beginning of this teaching, but I won't go into that here. I will recommend the teacher's book:

I don't recall Chris Webb including the discussion about "using utensils" within the book; nonetheless, why God does not "use" us will become clear. Meanwhile, I'm going to write what I did not know to say during that gathering and teaching. I did not know to say, "We all need something to look forward to." Many people look forward to being "of use", and when they find themselves no longer useful, they feel they have lost their worth. Our worth, yours and mine, comes from God who loves us and delights in us. We can look forward to a God-soaked life which might include activity but definitely can include creativity, no matter our physical state of being: young and healthy or in the deepest of physical woes. I think of Corrie Ten Boom, stricken speechless after a stroke, unable to physically do anything. However, she continued to live a life of prayer and community. She woke up in the mornings looking forward to her days with God and others. 

This thought took on added importance as another "newness" that we did not sign up for came about in the fall. My husband came down with life-threatening cellulitis that landed him in the hospital. That apparently triggered an arthritic flare up in his natural knee (last year at this time he had knee replacement surgery in the other knee), and the medical trials and tribulations have continued. 

While these events are not the "newness" I signed up for (and would not recommend signing up for); nonetheless, we have been loved throughout by God and by others. We have seen the fingerprints of God, the God-soaked life in too many ways to write of here (making a long post even longer). I hearken back to those verses I first rejoiced in at the beginning of the year. Lamentations 3:23 "God's mercies are new every morning." How did I miss the Lamentations part? Insert wry chuckle here. The writer spends 21 verses lamenting! Then comes verse 22: "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They (the compassions) are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness." Truly we have seen this. 

And, Isaiah? Um, yeah...that chapter has flood waters, fire, wilderness and desert...BUT, it also has "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine" (there are certain verses that I just love the King James, forgive me 💕) "When you pass through the water, I will be with are precious in my sight...fear not: for I am with you..." and 43:18 in full reads: "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."  

I did not sign up for this kind of "newness"; however, I find a song continually in my thoughts and in my heart: "Give thanks with a grateful heart; Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He has given Jesus Christ, his son. And, now let the weak say, "I am strong"; let the poor say, "I am rich," because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks." 

I give thanks for ways in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, fingerprints of God in a God-soaked life.