Maybe God’s “New Thing” is Not What You Think it is

I hope you’ve seen this 2011 viral video of this amazing kid’s rendition of DC Talk’s “Nu Thang,”  If you haven’t, lighten up your day a bit and take a look: 

Typically, when I hear someone quote Isaiah 43:19, in which the Lord says, “I am about to do a new thing,” or in some translations, “behold I am doing a new thing,” they’re almost never referring to something that they don’t like, disagree with, or that is going to make life harder for them.

I’d like to hear someone say, “God is doing a new thing, and I’m really unhappy about it.”

We need to consider that whatever God is up to at any given moment may not be to our liking, may not be what we thought the plan is, may not be the “new thing” that we’d like. I like how my colleague Laura Long puts it: “maybe God’s new thing is not your favorite thing.” If we could remain open to this possibility, I believe it would instill a humility in us, the admission that God is mysterious and that we often have only glimpses of what God is up to.

The quotation from Isaiah 43 likely refers to the promise of Israel’s return from exile. It’s worth noting that some of the Israelites were doing pretty well in their Babylonian captivity – socially, econmically, even politically. Why would we assume that every Israelite received this news of returning of exile, the of “God’s new thing,” as the news they wanted to hear? Perhaps for some this was news that seemed good, but deep down they feared the change and upheaval it promised. We can only speculate.

As we enter a new year with all our resolutions, goals, and commitments, know that God is indeed renewing and restoring all things. Know that despite our failed resolutions, falling short on goals and commitments, that God, on a grander scale, is always “doing a new thing” that will ultimately be for our good. This doesn’t mean that all the particular expressions of what God is up to will be what we expected or wanted. Conversely, let us not assume that the new thing we are so thrilled about has a one-to-one correlation with God’s will, for we still see only in a mirror dimly! In any case, I believe that in the end all the good, bad, and ugly will be decisively transformed and redeemed in ways more beutiful than we could have never imagined, for the “new thing” that God is doing is always in concert with God making “all things new.”

“Come broken and weary
Come battered and bruised
My Jesus makes all things new
All things new

Come lost and abandoned
Come blown by the wind
He’ll bring you back home again
Home again

Rise up, oh you sleeper, awake,
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up, oh you sleeper, awake,
He makes all things new”

– Andrew Peterson, “All Things New”

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