Our house and garden are a “project”. I say this in inverted commas because the word project sounds fairly positive – something exciting, something to get your teeth into. And right now, my feelings are less than positive and my teeth are mostly just gritted. For our whole married life, we’ve been renovating this old farmhouse, and we’re now attempting to turn the farmyard into a safe, inviting garden. And while I know that this is probably our forever-home, and that it’ll all be worth it – well, these days, with nice weather and with an active toddler who just wants to be outside, I’m through. I’m ready to live somewhere that doesn’t require an explanation to every visitor as to why it’s so untidy. I’m done with the dust and the piles of soil. And I want to be able to allow our inquisitive daughter to explore, without worrying about her rolling a stone the size of her head over her little toes.
However, yesterday morning, when a new library book was keeping her occupied for longer than the customary 30 seconds, I stood at my kitchen window with a coffee and looked out. And instead of sighing at the mess, like I usually do, I tried to focus on the beauty. The planters flowering with beautiful petunias. The one overgrown corner that always bursts into vibrant colour at this time of year. And the birds – we have so many birds!
And as I looked, these words came into my mind: “I am making all things new”.
This phrase appears in the Bible in Isaiah, and then again in Revelation. In Isaiah, God is lamenting his people’s unfaithfulness, but reassuring them that he is still faithful and will continue to look after them and renew them. And in Revelation, God is speaking of the new heavens and the new earth, where there is no fear or mourning. One is a call to repentance, and one is a promise for those who are struggling.
Our house and garden will one day be complete, and pleasant, and hopefully tidy! It’s hard to imagine at the moment, in the middle of the rubble, but there are the little glimpses that show promise. And in the meantime, this is just the process that we have to go through in order to get to a better place.
In the same way, we sometimes find ourselves lost in the misery of past regrets. Or sitting in the rubble of a mess we’ve made. Or even consumed by fear of what lies ahead. Perhaps we don’t know how God can forgive us, or how he can ever make a way through the wilderness that lies in before us.
But God is doing a work, both in our lives and in this world. He is making all things new. He is faithful to us, even when we’ve been unfaithful to him. It’s a process. It requires repentance and trust and prayer. It can be messy and unpleasant and hard. But if we let him, he will renew us again and again. He will pick us up, he will be with us, and he will ultimately take us to a place where we will be made fully, completely, and eternally new.
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.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”