Daily Devotion – March 29, 2022 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Isaiah 43:16-21
43:16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
43:17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
43:18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
43:19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
43:20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
43:21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

God is doing a new thing.

Most of the time we are not too crazy about new things.  We are comfortable with old things, things we are used to.

It is about comfort, a lot of the time. Things can even be new, as long as they are comfortable. But it would be better if they could be old and familiar and comfortable.

I worked for almost 30 years with congregations who were very interested in figuring out what mission God was calling them to do. I watched them as they struggled with the idea that what they had been doing for 20 years was no longer reaching anyone but a friendly few, and that life was passing them by. I coached them as they listened in their neighborhoods and looked for already existing relationships where the gifts God had given them could be matched up to human hurts and hopes in their towns. And I cheered them on when they took risks for the sake of the Gospel’s call to them. God was doing a new thing through them, and as strange and new and uncomfortable as it felt, they were giving water in the wilderness and declaring God’s praise as they did it.

Of course I also met folks who preferred not to connect with their neighbors, not to figure out how God was calling them, and not to consider how it was every believer’s job to live out the Gospel in their town or place. They remained comfortable, snuggled in the warmth of their old familiar blankets, while the other churches spent some sleepless nights and scary days connecting with new people.

But God just loves a new thing. God helps new things flourish. God blesses gifts and talents that are given away to folks God would love to reach. Especially when the givers and receivers might declare God’s praise as a result.

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for congregations who join God in doing new things, in trying out new ways rather than sticking to the comfortable. Bless those churches with your abundant strength and vitality so that they may bring Your good news to the whole world.   Amen.