Jerry destroyed Oval. He ripped his seams wide open and pulled out all his stuffing. Jerry is our miniature labradoodle, and Oval is our eight-year-old’s favorite stuffed animal. He got him when he was about three years old on a trip to IKEA. He named him in the parking lot on the way to the car. He looks like this.
This is not how he looked after we stitched him back up. He was disemboweled beyond repair. This is the new Oval who appeared peeking out of my son’s stocking this Christmas morning. He was purchased via Amazon Prime. I might have thought that he would refuse this new imitation, that he would protest that this wasn’t the real Oval, but he didn’t. He was excited and reintroduced him to all his other stuffed friends. Here’s the thing- although the tiny bear was manufactured with thousands of others by the IKEA corporation, my son actually created him. His imagination is rich enough for him to realize that although his friend was given a new body, his essence, the one he created in his imagination and games and thoughts, was one and the same.
And this is what the Father wants for us. Every morning. Every year. When we are chewed up and destroyed, when we have nothing left to offer, he wants to make us into something new.
“His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:3). We are completely renewed.
“Behold,” asserts the Son, “I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).
And what is so spectacular is that he continues to do it over and over and over, never growing weary of his promise, never tiring of the work of creation, never wavering in his commitment to us and our relationship with him. He loves us and will always reintroduce us to his people.
As G.K. Chesterton notes in Orthodoxy,
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
He promises us a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19)
He promises us a new vision and purpose (I Peter 2:9-10).
He promises us a new authority, a new master (I Peter 2:16).
He promises us a new allegiance, no longer tied to a political empire nor economic securities. (Galatians 6:14-16).
He promises us we will be a new people, in a new type of place, full of joy (Isaiah 65:17)
He promises us a new home and a place of belonging (Hebrews 10:39)
He promises we will have a new attitude, eager for love and inclusiveness (Colossians 3:12-14, Romans 12:13-16).
He promises us a new attitude of mind and new identity of holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
He promises us his very self (Ephesians 1:13).
It will all be new, replenished, a continual renewal, a life lived in constant rejuvenation, not fettered by our fatigue, nor contingent upon our confidence.
When things are new they are shiny. A penny. A new bicycle. Even metaphorically, new things shine- a marriage, a new career. But what happens when the Christmas tree is taken down, or when the ornaments are packed into the basement, or when the marriage has lost its sparkle, or the job has its annoyances? What happens to the beauty of the new? It fades, doesn’t it? It dissipates. It sags and withers. Sometimes it is beyond stitching or repair.
But Christ desires to be there with us. His Spirit whispers and firmly suggests we might be ready now for him to work in us. Then, he hovers and does what he does best: creates something new. He recreates us, reshaping us to look more like his Son, though in his infinite imagination, maintaining our essence.
Happy New Year. May each new day shine forth revealing his glory. Each day is newly created for you. The new year will be just as new and fresh and full of grace in March and September and November as it will be on January first. His mercies are new every morning. They are continually replenished and created anew, because he loves to create. He does not grow weary. It is who he is.