Towards the end of a home remodel project, I was leaving a furniture store with a new table destined for the house Janet and I had been updating with my sister and brother-in-law. While driving out of the parking lot, I unexpectedly found some deep happiness coming forth, but not for any reason I would have previously thought.
Although things are nice and necessary, and getting new things is often nice and sometimes necessary, I found the table itself wasn’t what was making me happy. Knowing a 40-year-old home was in the last stages of a major face lift—a home which I’ve known throughout my life—made me happy.
This house truly needed an update. It was worn out, breaking down, and outliving its original, beautiful design and we were all part of the transition of creating something wonderful and new. So, while driving home with a simple table, I was thankful and excited that I could add one of the finishing touches to this new thing!
Throughout our lives we deal with changes – the transitioning from what was to what is to be. Change is required, powerful, and very much providential. Time waits for no one and we all wear out at different times, break down in different ways, and require an updating from original, beautiful designs—designs which were good in their seasons, but were not meant to last forever. Admittedly, I am finding these required changes become even more evident as I near the end of this earthly life.
As I considered these truths, especially with the contrast of the timing of my home’s update when so many others nearby are suffering through devastating losses, I couldn’t help but remember a few verses where new "things," whether created independently or coming through loss, expose some of the more easily overlooked and deeper areas of life.
Making things new, whether intentional or forced, is often good in the long-term, and in many ways mimics God’s original actions with the physical world we know. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible shows us repeated examples of the beauty and necessity of things becoming new, and how God’s hands are in the changes all along.
After each of the first five days of creation, God declared simply, “It is good,” but a greater statement is made upon the sixth day’s capstone of creation when God fashioned the only being made in His image (i.e., us). “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So, the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). The first five days were good, but upon man’s creation a recognition of something extraordinary is made; the finale of creation, that is its finishing touches, allowed all to be declared “very good.”
Even with this final act, the grand design of creation was meant only for a time. For one day, the glory of Genesis’ creation will end. And along with it, thankfully, the heartaches and difficulties we suffer in this life will be forever abolished.
“Now I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Revelation 21:1-5)
Do we have tears? Yes. Do we know death? Without question. How about sorrow and pain? Crushingly in some seasons. But do we recognize His plans to bring us to that day when we have no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain? By then, the former things allowing and causing such will have passed away forever because He will fully make all things new in that day, much as He is progressively doing now.
Paul points out some of our earthly life’s difficulties and how our temporary nature even cries out for something better. And, Paul notes the creative hand of God guides us and prepares us to work through this life’s challenges to “become new” and found in Christ.
“For we who are in this tent [i.e., earthly body] groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (e.g., down payment) …Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:1-17)
Just as in Genesis, God’s first design initially carries us in this life but, as we respond to the Spirit’s call, the old passes away and a new creation is born in Christ. I don’t often think of God being excited about or enjoying his children. But if I can have joy in response to a new table in a home made of wood and plaster, just imagine His great pleasure and joy in making changes in those made in His image—in peoples’ hearts, minds, relationships, understanding of Him, and most importantly, saving faith.
Lastly, and admittedly sometimes most uncomfortably, this earthly ‘home’ must fully pass away in our passage to Heaven.
Paul’s letters once again guide us where it is written,
“…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’” (I Corinthians 15:50-54).
The putting down of this earthly body must happen so that the resurrection into an eternal body will come to pass and allow us to no longer know death or its associated pains. Perhaps with a better understanding of the requirement for a full renovation of this earthly house, we would pour less focus, energy, and resources into something clearly temporary and requiring an eventual full replacement.
Again, imagine God’s perspective on our physical, environmental, and spiritual challenges in this life. We struggle and fight to keep both kinds of ‘earthly homes’ in good condition—homes that are breaking down and yet in one way or another are destined to be renovated. At some point, just like my family’s house, we will outlive the original and beautiful design and need some serious updating. This occurs incrementally in our days through loss, moves, work challenges, family milestones (e.g., marriage, children, empty nest, etc.), and health-related issues, but none of these events are any further from the loving and guiding hands of our Father than was creation, or the circumstances leading to our salvation, or as will be evident in our eventual translation into immortality.
Just as God’s creation was “very good” in the beginning, so our daily lives and eventual transition into eternity reflect his making “all things new.” We can trust that even in the midst of the unknown or unexpected He is bringing about something better, something “new” and “very good,” through transitions He has planned for, is involved with, and is excited about.
Indeed, God is at work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure. The former things, those which are outliving their original designs, are passing away as God makes something better and more glorifying to Him. He does that not only with things, but with us too by causing some of what we have known to end while He is creating new results previously unexpected or even unknown to us. With such assurance, both in this life and the one to come, may we let our heart-felt requests be made known to Him with thanksgiving by which the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:13, 4:6-7).