See, I am doing a New Thing!
See, I am doing a New Thing!
by Albert Bogle
I was speaking with a colleague the other week. The discussion centered around a sense of unease she was feeling going forward in ministry. She was just unsure about how she should lead a congregation coming out of lockdown. I sensed she was feeling guilty about questioning the inherited model of church that she had been given.
There is nothing disloyal about feeling a sense of restlessness in our hearts. I think the past two years of pandemic has caused us all to rethink so many things. Which of us have not had a restless sense of longing for what we once had? Recalling friendships and opportunities, that sustained us. A social life that allowed hugs and kisses and friends over at the drop of a hat.
Hopefully even better days will return, but I think we have learned something about life itself and also about ourselves. Better days must mean a longing for a more equal world and a church that is ministering to all the generations. Now is the time to evaluate how we have been doing church.
So many people have embraced the truth that we are spiritual beings. The general public have learned about the importance of mental health, and each of us at some point has been forced to face up to our own inner loneliness. In doing so discovering a new empathy for those who struggle in a world full of disadvantage and anxiety.
For some this sense of inner loneliness has forced them to the place of prayer and the discovery that God can be perhaps first encountered at a kitchen table or a smile through a window or even through a smart phone screen. Google recorded prayer as one of the most requested topics in their search engines during the lockdowns.
One of the ideas that has caused me to find consolation, and purpose in my restlessness is to reflect on the biblical teaching that we are citizens of heaven with eternity written in our hearts. When this is understood as the source of our restlessness the prayer that Jesus taught us takes on a whole new dimension. Praying “your kingdom come” is a prayer of active expectation that the Father will indeed come and bring peace to our troubled and restless hearts.
What a change of mindset would occur if we were to believe that the Kingdom of God has actually taken up residence in our anxious lives filling each room with the hope of peace. To believe and live life in the light of such a revelation would become transformational.
Augustine the great Christian thinker philosopher and Bishop of the 4th century speaking to God in his Confessions, wrote “You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
In other words, our restlessness is all about preparing and making room in our lives for the Kingdom of God to come and abide with us. When such a house guest takes up residence joy becomes the antidote to loneliness. Restlessness becomes the leaver that turns our hearts to prayer and praise and expectation.
Could it be that what we are calling tiredness and weariness, what we are naming as a disinterested spirit in the things of God, is in fact something much more positive and profound. Could it be that this is nothing more than a restlessness brought about by the Holy Spirit calling us to see the new thing God is doing?
In Isaiah 43:19 God speaks to the prophet saying “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wastelands”
There is nothing disloyal about feeling a sense of restlessness in our hearts. It is time to learn new things, to walk in new ways and fish in fresh streams. The way maker has just said, Follow me! And if you’re feeling worn out don’t be discouraged restlessness does that to you. The way maker has made provision for rest along the way.
Find out more about this months theme: Restless Souls