Last week my mother-in-law was severely reprimanded by our very tearful 4 year old daughter for cutting her toast into 4 pieces instead of 2. How dare she? That wasn’t the way she usually had it… she wanted it exactly the same as usual. Who can blame her? Then the next day, I found a heart-shaped cookie cutter and squished it down in the middle of her slice of granary to create not 2 halves or 4 quarters, but a big yummy buttery toasty heart for breakfast. Something new. Smiles and excitement all round. Win.
Whatever it is – most of us can react to change with extremes of either excitement and joy or tears and distress. Things can often be much nicer, safer if they stay just as we like them, but things new and different can also be those amazing times when we are surprised, positively challenged and refreshed and stretched to experience more, better and deeper.
To borrow a phrase from St John (kind of), if we were to write down all the things that had happened at St Paul’s Hounslow West since we reopened the doors in October 2012, there would not enough room in all this magazine (and they’ve only given me 300 words…). But things we have seen by the plenty include change and challenge, joy and nervousness, desperate prayers and ecstatic rejoicing, missing old friends and celebrating new ones, laughter and tears, success and failure, the comfortable and the surprising, stretching and healing, and many opportunities to trust God to use our new church, new fellowship and renewed hearts to lead us to serve him more.
My heart still remains thrilled when I read those words from Isaiah 43: ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ Thrilled, but still a little bit apprehensive until I remember the end of the verse, as God says: ‘I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’ And then I breathe: God is doing a new thing… hold on for your life; fasten your seatbelts… but what could be better?