Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Hidden Cost of Making All Things New

Toward the end of the apostle John's grand apocalyptic vision, our Lord Jesus Christ takes his seat on the celestial throne and declares with triumph:

"I am making everything new! ...
These words are trustworthy and true!"
Having now arrived on the far side of quitting one job and taking another, selling one house and buying another, leaving one state (Illinois) and taking up residence in another (Colorado), I must confess that, at least lately, these words don't sound like unqualified good news to me.

Don't get me wrong: I love my new job and my new house and my new state. It has mountains in it. I've seen them. People who live here apologize to you if the weather isn't absolutely perfect. It's a good thing that we're here now. And yet the way from there to here has taxed my energies and revealed my insecurities. And it's cost a lot of money.

Mountains of fees and unexpected costs associated with selling and buying a house. License and registration fees for our cars, my wife's counseling practice, even our cats. Little things we need for setting up and settling into our house, some of which we know we already have but can't find in our basement full of boxes. Money, money, money.

TWEET THIS: "I am making everything new!" ... These words don't sound like unqualified good news.

And that's just the money part. The logistics of attending to all these adjustments taxes our brains and drains our energy. We drove all over town for several weeks, dealing with this or that, never really knowing where we were going. I still couldn't tell you how to get to Target, and yet Target constantly beckons.

And that's just the logistics part. A new town means new church, new neighbors, new friends, and until you've worked that all out a new town means no church, no friends, and neighbors who wait for you to make the first move even though you don't have the least bit of energy left to make the first move. Not to mention that you're lost in this new place, craving a new familiarity, persevering as best you can until the bewilderment finally passes.

I'm making it sound awful, I know. Pity the poor blogger. In fact we've been helped immensely along the way by people who have, in fact, reached out to us. A longtime acquaintance became a treasured friend virtually overnight; a couple of coworkers have been reliable guides and gracious companions throughout our transition; we've had dinners with friends and families we rarely saw back in Illinois, and we've got a surprisingly full social calendar. Stepping back and objectively assessing the scene, I can see the good in all the new.

But life isn't a matter of stepping back; it's a matter of stepping in and wading through, of accepting the reality you're presented with and living well in the midst of it. And reality is a story being written, which means there is always something new on the horizon, some resolution to the current drama, some plot twist that no one saw coming. Even we are changing, not simply our circumstances: I'm not the person I was in Illinois, because in the process of moving from there to here, of letting go of then and accepting the reality of now, I am being made new.

TWEET THIS: "Life isn't a matter of stepping back; it's a matter of stepping in and wading through."

So are you, for the record. Don't get cocky. The process of change, happening as it is on both a cosmic and a subatomic level, is a humbling thing, and whatever it produces in us, it probably will make us more humble if we let it.

And humility isn't just a virtue in this case; it's a resource. With humility we are better equipped to endure the embarrassment of asking for what we need. With humility we are more prepared to see the needs of people experiencing change and to offer ourselves to ease the burden. With humility we are better positioned to step back from the story we find ourselves in and to see the good news hidden in all this change, all this newness.

"I am making all things new!" Jesus says, and he wouldn't say it if he didn't mean it, and if he didn't mean it for good. I'm sort of counting on that, because in the midst of all this change, any good news is a gift.

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