This morning I was listening to Morning Prayer on the Lectio365 app. If you haven’t heard it, or given it a go, I hugely commend it to you (you can find it here… https://www.24-7prayer.com/dailydevotional)
This morning’s bible reading came from probably my all-time favourite book, Isaiah, and was this well-known passage:
‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert…’ (Isaiah 43:19)
And how much that resonates right now! See, says God, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? Well, durr. Yes, yes, I perceive it. That view out of my window is definitely not Hartlepool, of course I perceive it.
Or do I?
Because, it turns out, God is so often doing a new thing – almost 1,300 times in the pages of scripture God calls God’s people to notice. And how often do we perceive it?
For my latest new ‘thing’ (this move, new job, new marital status, new membership of Team Baseley), I am fortunate enough to hardly fail to perceive it. But how often does one thing gradually turn into the next and the next and the next, without us seeing what journey God is taking us on, without us realising this is a NEW thing?
And that got me thinking about something else.
That got me realising that (I think it’s true to say) everything we do seems to be preparation for the next NEW thing that God will do. Like, nothing that happens to us – good or bad – is ever wasted. Every single thing, in the hands of the Loving Creator, is taken and used and remoulded and redeemed, until it becomes a building block for the next new thing, or the one after that…
So, the Gemma who, at 21, took a casual job in a marketing department of a theatre now knows how to write press releases, and speak on the radio, when something newsworthy happens in her church.
Teenage Gemma was interested in the needs of the many street sleepers in her hometown and would always chat with them; she went on to set up a soup kitchen to feed and provide for hundreds of hungry people in Hartlepool.
The Gemma who did a dance and drama degree because it was fun (and she fancied herself as something of a performer) now knows how to project her voice to a crowd and walk confidently in processions (I swear I use my dance and drama degree at least 3 times as often as my theology one!)
And the Gemma who was punished for missing church on a Sunday will always encourage parishioners to see family and friends – or whatever it is – and will never lay the blame on thick…
And youth-worker Gemma longs to see young people in her church, and community, and has been trained in how to reach out and talk to kids
And even the divorced Gemma might be able to share a few ideas of how she might try to do marriage differently this time. 🤷🏼♀️
So, back to this new thing God is doing. In many ways, I think I do perceive it, in part. But in so many other ways, I watch and wait to see which of my life experiences, thus far, will be taken and broken and reshaped and reused in this next chapter. I wonder which things from my past will come back, and how often I will find myself say, ‘so that is what that was all about!’. Do you recognise that in you?
Often, we don’t know what new thing God will do, or how our past experiences, or especially our past mistakes, will ever be useful materials in the hands of God, AND YET, time and time again, God proves Godself to be an incredible recycler of all the bits that have gone before.
The great Christian author, CS Lewis, wrote ‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind’ (a quote I wrongly attributed to the pages of scripture for many more years than I care to disclose!). If we truly believe that we worship a Redeemer who takes our past and uses it to shape our future, then how can this fail to be true?
And, going back to that wonderful passage from Isaiah 43, do you know how it continues? It goes on to say that this new thing God is up to is so that God’s people might proclaim God’s praise (43:21). All of God’s new things, are in order that we might give glory to God and proclaim God’s praise.
So, in this hotel quarantine, on my flight to Perth, on my (hopefully soon) reunion with Craig and in all that lies ahead, I commit afresh to proclaim the praise of the God who is always up to new things. I will proclaim the praise of the One who recycles the old to bring about streams in deserts and rivers in waste places. Alleluia!
What about you? What new thing is God up to, in and around you? Do you perceive it? And will you use it as a way of proclaiming God’s praise?
Give us your grace, that it may it be so Lord, for Your Glory, Amen x
On retreat last year I read those words too. My wonderful retreat companion and director,Sally-Ann, told me that God was goingbto repurpose me. I love that idea. He will take my experiences,mistakes, triumphs and every day ordinary encounters and IF I let Him, He can repurpose me from these..and all to His praise and glory. Thank you Gemma.
I was wracking my brains to think of any occasion when I punished you for missing church. Not me m’lud!
But, I totally get this Gemma……it’s only with hindsight!
Take me back!
Another brilliant blog. Enjoyed online mass this morning Gemma. Your looking well. Rest will be good for you. Soon be a hectic time for you xx💕