Something is new and then it is old. It becomes obsolete after the novelty has worn off.
Eventually it becomes outdated and discarded for the next new thing.
Think about the technological tools that have dazzled us initially only to be replaced before our contract could be renewed.
It is not that the technology does not work any longer, it is simply that it has been replaced by a newer and better product.
This is the sentiment that drives our capitalistic economy. It is often why we obsessively idolize the newest item.
Walk into any Apple store and you will see this tendency. It is the latest and newest that we desire.
This understanding of new also carries over in the way in which our culture looks at people. You are young and then you are old.
You created something or got that promotion years ago and now everyone expects a long and gradual slide into oblivion.
This is especially true as you grow older.
The Greeks had two words for new that are used in the New Testament. Neos which basically means that which was not here before. It is tied to time and implies brand new.
Then there is kainos which means not yet used. Kainos is not tied to time. Instead, it paints a picture of newness that can occur again and again across a lifetime.
The New Testament uses this word (kainos) to describe what it means to be made new. We are told that God is making all things new. We are also reminded of Paul’s words that a new humanity is being created in Christ.
This understanding of newness has huge implications for all of us.
The years come and go. You are young and then you are not. What is left? As you age, are the best days behind you? Has all the creative potential you once had been used up? Is there anything left that has not yet been used?
We are challenged in the Bible to remember that God is always working to create something new—a new heaven and a new earth. This newness that God is working on comes from the the redemptive activity of God.
The Good News-God can take what is not yet used in our lives and create something beautiful and better than what has been.
This raises questions for all of us. What is there in our lives not yet used? What potential, skill, experience, or possibility might yet become something new?
This understanding of new demands a choice.
Do we listen to the culture around us that worships only those things that are brand new and suggests that nothing new can really come from anything except from the latest generation?
Or do we listen to the possibility that God is not through with us and the best could still be before us?
Maybe we should listen to John Gardner instead of our culture. Gardner reminds us, “There is something I know about you that you may not even know about yourself. You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, and more to give than you have ever given.”
It makes me wonder what we are really capable of but have never attempted? I wonder what talents or gifts we might possess that have not yet been used?
Abraham Maslow encourages us to take our potential more seriously. Maslow writes, “The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”
If we listen to the culture, we end up concluding that we are used up. We end up believing that the best and most creative life and work is behind us.
There is another way to embrace newness. We can grow wiser and more creative with the passing years. We can create something from what has not yet been that transcends anything we have done before.
I think of my mother-in-law. She could take scraps of fabric and weave them into a beautiful tapestry in making a quilt. She would take scraps of fabric and create something new and more beautiful.
That is what God is doing with the remnants of our very lives. He’s taking the pieces and if we are willing, he will help create something new and more beautiful of our lives.
It’s our choice.
A Poem/Prayer by George McDonald
LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do–with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and ruth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best–young eyes and heart and brain …