He makes all things new and for a long time I think that this means he exchanges the old for the new, out with the old car, in with the new car, out with the old house, in with the new house. Circumstances don't make things all better, but newness doesn't hurt.
I think this every time someone succeeds in life, in ways that I dream of succeeding: someday I won't be doing this and He makes all things new, I won't always live like this. I think this every time I see another friend walk down the aisle and my heart constricts with the simultaneous thoughts: when will it be my turn and He makes all things new, these days will be exchanged for new days.
It's 70 degrees in the Dallas area today and while she sleeps on a chair in the middle of our yard, I pull all of our plants off the front sill to the back porch.
I clip and shift, cup dirt in my hands and push it around roots. I pile the bottom of containers with rocks and layer soil on top. Some get moss; some get chopsticks and strings, keeping them standing tall and strong; some are clipped off just above the root and the root is all I plant, these are the kind I worry about the most. Can the roots be enough to push up green and living things again?
Six months ago a part of me died. You may laugh here when I tell you it was only because the plants that I love so much, the things that kept giving life when I felt mine wilting in every direction, they died. All of them. It took a month of driving through the continental United States, a month of conversations and moving, a month of different temperatures, but at the end of that month, my plants were wilted, broken, shriveled and dead. They couldn't handle the move that I so desperately wanted.
I wept over one. I know. Pitiful. But it felt like just one more thing that was going to have to start new, brand new. And this is the picture I have of God in September. He kills and then gives something as a consolation prize: I know that hurt, but look what I have for you now!
And that's not a bad picture. Ask anyone in the world if that is a bad picture and I think they will agree that it is not. That sort of thing feels good. It makes the pain and the pleas feel a little worth it.
But it's a hopelessly incorrect picture of God. And this is what I learn today when I pull out the Jade plant for his grooming. He, whose leaves were shriveled and dying just four months ago, whose stem was brown and dry, there at the top of his body are dozens of green shoots. And there, at his roots, there is a fallen leaf who has taken root himself. And I learn that God is not in the business of exchanging, of giving and taking our lesser or best. He is in the business of restoration and redemption.
He makes things new and sometimes he makes them new again and again and again.
I feel this every day in my heart, even if I cannot articulate it. I feel that all the hopes and dreams and plans haven't changed, but the hope I have placed in them has. And though the circumstances have changed a bit, he is not fixing my heart by making my circumstances new. He is fixing my heart by making me new. There was death involved, wilting and shriveling, but bursting in me there is life involved, hope renewed, joy restored.
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" Psalm 30.11, 12