Growing up, we were fortunate to spend time each summer at a friend's bach just a stone's throw away from the water. I loved these holidays - not only were they filled with lots of fun at the beach, but they were the chance to get lost in a good book, to play the same round of Monopoly for days on end and to do jigsaw puzzles. But not just any jigsaw puzzles, giant jigsaw puzzles - the kind that when you're finally finished, you want to somehow preserve and never have to break up because you're so proud that you finally figured out where all the pieces went!
We would spend hours working on these puzzles, constantly looking back at the cover picture trying to figure out where all the different pieces went. I remember the frustration of trying to make pieces fit where they were never intended to go. I would turn them, and then turn them again, trying over and over to make them fit where I was convinced that they belonged.
Life can feel like one of those jigsaw puzzles. We have all these different pieces that we're trying to position and sometimes we get stuck, attempting to force a piece to fit where it doesn't go. Trying to position even just one piece in the wrong place can skew the picture that we see, affecting all the surrounding pieces.
In the gospels, Jesus said something that challenges me. The religious leaders were questioning Him as to why His disciples didn't fast, and after responding that wedding guests do not fast while celebrating with the groom, but that when the groom (Jesus) is taken away, then they will fast, He goes on to say:
No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.
In this context, Jesus is telling us that even though there will be a time for His disciples to fast again, it won't look the same as it did under the Old Covenant because the Cross has changed everything (I'd love to digress and explain about what this new fasting looks like, but that's a different post for another day!). Jesus is not saying that the old skin, the old approach was wrong, but He is making it clear that what was good at one point in time will no longer be adequate in this new season.
The wineskins that Jesus was talking about were most likely made from goat-skin. The wine would be poured into these skins, and as it fermented the skins would stretch. If you were to try and reuse the skins for another batch of new wine, they would no longer have the capacity or suppleness to stretch and they would burst, ruining both the wine that they had held and the skin itself.
There are times when embracing something new requires us to be willing to set aside something old - because if we persist in trying to make two pieces of the 'puzzle' that belong to two different parts of the picture fit together, we can end up ruining them both. We rob ourselves of the new thing that God wants to deposit into our lives because the old mindset, the old way of doing things cannot contain it. Consequently we can begin to think of the 'old' as a bad thing, rather than being able to celebrate the good part that it has played in the overall picture of our lives.
The last few years have held a number of significant changes for me personally, and in some of those changes I have willingly and enthusiastically embraced the new things that God has for me. But can I be honest, there have been lots of ways in which I have tried to maintain a status quo. Change can be both exhilarating and terrifying all at once and we can find comfort in the familiar even when it's not really working any more. That's why Jesus went on to say in Luke 5:39:
But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
But I don't want just fine anymore. I want to experience the blessings that God has for me in each and every season; I want to learn to embrace, to perceive the new things that He has for me and to trust Him when He says, "That piece doesn't fit here."
What is the 'new wine' that you sense God is wanting to pour into your life?
Take a step back from all the individual pieces and look at the big picture. Trust that God has a time and a place for all the pieces that you carry in your heart.
Live today with purpose,
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One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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