by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

January, 2008

Thanks to the generosity of Liston and Bonnie, our church’s fledgling “praise band” now has an electric bass guitar. Liston said he could get us one, provided we could find someone to play it. After a (very) small amount of discussion, it was decided (mostly by me) that Larry would be the best candidate since he plays the trumpet and therefore already has a solid foundation of musical knowledge. (And now he knows who to blame.) I feel a bit guilty for suggesting him since he’s such a nice guy and already does so much for our church. But he truly is the best choice, at least in my humble opinion. I jokingly referred to “growing a bass player from seed” but really there’s nothing “seedy” about Larry or his trumpet playing. He’s a very talented musician. But while he’s played the trumpet for a number of years, the bass is a completely new instrument, kind of like me learning to play the bagpipes based on being able to play the guitar.

When Mary saw Larry with the bass, she asked him, “Can you play the bass?” Larry simply smiled, shook his head, and said, “No.” Then he picked up the bass and took it home to learn to play it. Personally, I intend to give Larry all the encouragement I can because I can’t wait to hear him playing along with the “praise band.” I believe it will add a new dimension to our sound and to our worship experience.

In the same way, new experiences—whether good or bad—can add new dimensions to our lives. I don’t know about Larry but I’m frequently intimidated or at least a bit nervous when I have to do something I haven’t already done a million times. But if I had always been like that I would’ve never ridden a bicycle or a Ferris wheel, or eaten any of my favorite foods, or kissed a girl or gotten married, or played a musical instrument, in my case a guitar. My response should be more like Larry’s: Smile, pick up the task at hand, and get started.

In the book of Isaiah, God says to the people of Israel, “‘Behold, I am doing a new thing;’” (Isa. 43:19a ESV). God is in the business of making things—and people—new. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 ESV). We are no longer supposed to cling to the things of the past, the things that held us back when we were without Christ. Instead, we are commanded to let go of the past and embrace the new. Paul told the Christians in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Rom. 12:2a ESV). We are to be transformed by God’s Spirit and renewed by faith. Paul told his friend Titus that God saved us from our sins “. . . by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Tit. 3:5b ESV).

God continues—and will continue—to make things and people new. John wrote in Revelation, “‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (Rev. 21:4 ESV). This is what we have to look forward to, what we can anticipate, as God’s plan is fulfilled.

As we come to the end of an old year, we also come to the beginning of a new one, a year filled with new challenges, experiences, and opportunities to witness to our savior and increase our faith. Knowing Christ adds a new dimension to our lives and the same relationship can add a new dimension to the lives of others. God will continue to make persons and situations new, to regenerate, renew, and recreate. As God works in and through us, may we share the good news of a God who is prepared to wipe away every tear, to bring eternity to every life, to comfort every sorrow, and to ease every burden. May we “pick up” each new task God sends our way and, with a smile, continue to grow and learn.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Rev. 21:1-5a ESV.)

Copyright © 2008 by David Phelps