We are always changing. Thank goodness for that, right? We are not the same person that we were a year ago. We are not in the same situation that we were living in either. While thinking about where we were a year ago or even several years ago can bring about unpleasant memories, we have the chance to change the story and thank God that we are not in that place anymore. On the other hand, when we look at where we have been and begin to consider what the next year will bring, we can easily become overwhelmed because we are looking at our future with only the understanding of where we are right now in life. For someone who likes to plan ahead and prepare myself for whatever the future may bring (impossible, I know) it can be frustrating and frightening to think about.
Over the past few weeks, however, I have been reading through the New Testament and a passage from Mark stood out to me. In Mark 21:21-22 it says,
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, and a worse tear will result. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.” -Mark 2:21-22
Speakers and leaders have focused on this verse before, but many skim over the first section of this passage and instead focus on the value of placing new wine into new wineskins. While this is important, of course, my attention was drawn to the beginning of this message as it gives clarification to the rest of it.
When sewing and mending used clothes, it is always best to use cloth or material that has been washed first. After it is washed and dried, the cloth will shrink down to a size that it will maintain moving forward. Unshrunk cloth, however, is material that has not been touched, washed, or worn in any way. When it is used to patch up the old, the cloth will shrink after the first wash. In the places where it has been sewn, the new cloth will pull away from the old. Not only is the new patch ruined, but the hole that was being covered is larger and the edges are frayed.
How many times do we do this in life? We leave a difficult situation or experience and instead of relying on God to make us whole through His healing, truth, love and goodness, we try to patch up the hole in our hearts or our lives with something new. It is so easy for us to do this, as we believe that it will make the situation better and allow us to reach a place in our lives where we feel whole, safe, secure and in control. While it may feel good at the time, as soon as that new “patch” leaves or falls away, we are left with a larger hole that requires even more healing because we never dealt with the pain, frustration, fear or insecurity the first time.
That brings us to the second part of this passage from Mark. God not only wants to heal the parts of us that are feeling incomplete, but He wants to bring us to a place where we are redeemed, whole and found new in Him. Through the grace and mercy of God and the blood that was poured out on the cross, we can be transformed into someone new. Once this happens, we can fully welcome the new wine that He brings into our lives and properly care for it as we steward a new beginning with the goodness of God. Yes, we may still have a history that is difficult to even comprehend, but instead of reflecting on the past with pain and wondering how the next year of our lives will unfold, we can see how God has carried us through the tough times, and look expectantly to the future and all that He will do.
God never changes, but He is in the process of changing us. If we allow ourselves to be brought down by the old, the worn, and the parts of our lives that are only damaging ourselves instead of building ourselves up as sons and daughters of Christ, we will not be able to properly accept the new experiences and blessings that He has for us. However, if we allow God to lead us as we heal and fully understand the depth of His grace, we can welcome the new and walk into a season of life that is not only glorifying to God but that honours the goodness that He longs to give His children.