Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Things From Old Things

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 streams in the wasteland.  
-Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

January 1 always puts me in a reflective mood.  How about you?  

2018 in many ways was no different from any other year for us.  We rode the ups and downs of life.  We dealt with hard things and we were uplifted by joyous things.  Those pesky things called "health issues" just kept popping up their irritating heads...some bigger than others but we're still standing!  In the Spring, we said goodbye to Ed's mother and just a few weeks ago we welcomed my niece's new son.  We capped off the year by spending Christmas week with our children in Tennessee and I don't mind telling you it was a whole lot colder than we like!  But it was one of our best family gatherings ever.

Sometimes events are defined by the smallest things.  That explains the pictures of the orchid.  Some years ago, a friend gave me this orchid plant for my birthday.  It was in full bloom and was simply stunning.  "Just hang it in your oak tree," she said, "and leave it alone and it will take care of itself."  

Well, that's certainly the kind of plant for me.  I did not inherit the green thumb that both my parents had. So we hung it in the tree and it bloomed and rested and bloomed and rested for a long time.  And then...we realized it had stopped blooming.  In fact, the poor thing looked simply pitiful.  And then it looked dead.  No more blooms.  My pragmatic husband took it down from the tree.

"Looks like your orchid has lived its life," he said.  "Time to throw it away."  Honestly, it was dead sticks.  But I have a friend who knows her way around an orchid plant.  She has dozens - all varieties, shapes and colors.  "No, I think I'll see if Thea can do something with it."  It was like putting a comatose person into ICU.  Thea looked at that mess of black nothing and saw possibilities.  I heard nothing more about it and our conversations over the next few months were about anything but orchids.

Until one day in November.  The familiar voice on the other end of the phone said "You need to come see your orchid."  Really?  I couldn't wait to see it and I honestly wasn't expecting much.  You see from the pictures how wrong I was.  Thea proudly pointed out all the other buds in addition to the blooms.  After our photo session, I decided to leave that orchid plant right there in her care.  It was obviously happy.

And to me, it is a symbol of hope.  What looked so bleak when I took it to Thea is now a blooming, vibrant, viable plant.  Who knows how long it will live.  

This 43rd chapter of Isaiah is a favorite of mine.  It begins with that wonderful promise from the Lord that we are not to fear for he has redeemed us: when we pass through the waters or walk through the fire he will be with us.  And then he leads into the above verse by saying "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."  

As we turn the calendar to a new year, we seem to think we can hit some great re-set button and all will be new and different.  But it won't.  Whatever situations we were dealing with on December 31 are still there on January 1.  But here is the promise: God continues to go before, doing new things constantly in our lives...standing by our side as we press on through the deep waters...holding onto us as we walk through the fire.  Simply put, we can look forward with hope.

I hope you know this assurance today.  I can't imagine stepping into a new year without it.  If I can help you, leave me a comment.  This could be the best year of your life! 

See, he is doing a new thing...making a way in your wilderness and streams in your wasteland.