It seems that since the beginning of recorded history, everyone has a desire to discover or find something “new”. New music, new fashion, new foods and new ways to lose the unwanted extra pounds that seem to hold onto these old bodies. The old Adkins diet has become the new tweaked Keto diet. The “pedal pushers” of the 60’s in women’s style, became the capri pants of the last decade. And even that is not accurate when on the web you can buy a vintage pattern from 1953 showing the same short pants. The “old” constantly and consistently shows up again and again as new, whether in the form of new fashion or a new diet promising amazing and quick results. (Which is why I have no doubt that in 2050 they will publish a new medical study showing that “diet and exercise” are the keys to good health and a trim physique!)
Many welcome the old becoming new. Child-rearing experts of the previous decades vehemently taught about the destructive influences on children of parents who told their children “no”. They said children must have no boundaries and must be able to develop with as little parental interference and rules as possible. Now, the experts cheer the placement of very consistent routines for naps, bedtimes and other disciplines citing that such practices contribute to better grades in school and overall better health.
Consistency truly is key
Similarly, we have always been taught that the key to better spiritual health is to be consistent in reading your Bible, praying, serving, and giving in your church. Those are old words and old advice. In this new year, the new advice is this: in order to foster good spiritual health, be consistent in reading your Bible, praying, serving, and giving in your church. Truly, this has worked for over 2000 years. What’s old is new again in 2022.
Vernon and I find ourselves in a unique situation as we return to Tanzania on January 30th. Our city church where Vernon pastored has been turned over to national leadership. Therefore, we will begin a “new” work. That word “new” carries such a wide-eyed sense of anticipation. Starting churches is a work that has been the modus operandi of global workers for many many years. It’s old. Yet for us, it’s new. New area, new people, new relationships, new challenges.
Ecclesiastes 1:6-9 cynically and yet beautifully explains it this way.
“The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Solomon wrote “there is nothing new under the sun.” And yet, we all find ourselves in a new year. Possibly with a longing for a new approach, a new goal, a newly found sense of excitement and fervor to study and know God more intimately.
Serenity in the midst of change
The old “serenity” prayer says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Written by Reinhold Niebuhr a theologian in 1932, it originally was a complete prayer as follows:
God, give me grace to accept with serenityReinhold Niebuhr
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
As we face the new year God can, and indeed longs to, change what was old into what is new; more accurately, “be transformed” more into His image. We must have the courage and willingness to allow those changes. Our height, our shoe size, and many other things in our lives are beyond our ability to change. However, we can courageously ask God to “search our hearts and lives and see if there be any wicked way” which needs to be addressed; surrendering under the mighty hand of the potter to mold and transform us into a new vessel.
Vernon & Mary Smith
Global Workers in Tanzania
The Smiths have been BBFI missionaries since 1988. They serve in Tanzania, East Africa, and their main emphasis is church planting.