The Other Side of New

Why are we so desperate to go back to what we know?

Why do we have such an affinity with the way it’s always been? There is such romanticism in a phrase like, “I wish I could go back to the good old days.” We operate almost as homing pigeons or lost dogs, innately seeming to know where home is. We find it so hard to shake, despite how deeply we’d like to change, adapt, move and grow with the times. We want to be current, fresh, adaptable and forward thinking, because this is attractive and it speaks to success and achievement, in a success and achievement-oriented culture. In this constant tug of war, what might be the invitation of our Heavenly Father?

As the global pandemic began in 2020 and COVID-19 raced around the world, society screamed that the world was changing forever. We heard that this period of time would feature in the history books, and that our children and grandchildren would ask us what it was like to live through COVID-19. In Christian circles, we heard that “God was doing a new thing,” that He was shifting things in His church. He was changing things for the better, and we’d never go back to the way things were. We didn’t need a building to be the Church, and we’d gather in a whole new way. I heard this so frequently that it became white noise. I knew that the world was changing forever, I knew that God’s Church was changing, and yet how quickly it became ‘same old, same old.’ It is only now, after eighteen months of the world churning, groaning, shifting, moving and generally remaining displaced, that “God is doing a new thing” is taking on fresh meaning.

In Exodus 14:12, the Israelites relish their newfound freedom from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Upon learning of the potential of starving in the desert after being miraculously delivered by God’s own hand, they plead with Moses to return to slavery, to what they’ve always known.

“Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

It is easy for us to look at that verse with hindsight and say, “Silly Israelites, don’t you know that the promised land awaits you, don’t you know that God will provide for you in just a couple of verses?” And yet, is that not our own situation right now? Have we not thought, “Where is God in the midst of this change? Why is God silent on what comes next? When will the world stop changing every week, and when will we get back to what we know?”

John writes in Revelation 21:5, from the mouth of God, “I am making everything new.”

This verse is the basis of our church’s 2021 vision and it takes on fresh meaning in the light of the Exodus story. As we let the words rest in our spirits, as we become aligned to the heart and purpose of God, we experience the freedom that comes with surrendering to the other side of new. We begin to trust God’s plans and purpose. We understand that what is new for us is not new for God. We no longer find solace and security in ‘the way it’s always been,’ but we find hope in the promise that God is making everything new.

Are you like me, and have you longed for the memory and predictability of pre-covid life recently? Is God calling you to a deeper understanding of His character?

God is making all things new, all the time. Let’s join Him.

Sam Farren
Crossway Youth Pastor