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Thankfulness Project: All Things New

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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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.” -Revelation 21:5, ESV

Regenerate means to regrow something lost, or bring to life something that was dying. Crabs can regrow their removed claws. For this reason, stone crab claws are a delicacy in Florida coastal towns. Stone crabs are caught, claws removed, and the crabs tossed back into the ocean. There are laws, limits, and regulations on those who are allowed to harvest stone crab claws. Only certain businesses, certain applicants, are granted permission by the higher authorities to carefully remove the claws, so that the crab can still regenerate their removed limbs, and survive once released back into the wild ocean. It can take a year for an adult to regrow its lost appendage, and only a few months for a juvenile.

In science fiction, there is a character whose show has existed since the 1960s, with many books written as well. Its main character is an alien from another planet who can only remain in one human body for a short length of time, usually until it is severely damaged or dying (sometimes only one season of the show). Because he is a Time Lord, his soul does not die, but his current form does, so he must “regenerate” into a new body, and a new actor or actress replaces the previous one.

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I once joked to a new friend that, in my healing after a major trauma in my life, “Each new human body suit I put on is challenging to get used to. It’s complex, has new limitations and strengths. There are old ways I'm removing and new ones I'm adopting and I'm still learning it and how it fits me as I go.” It was in reference to the fact that I had been one way my whole life (my identity bound in what I could accomplish, in both work and relationships), and God had shown me there was a better way to be (seek to please God, not man), and to follow Him above all. I’m thankful that God never stops making me new, granting me satisfaction in who He’s made me to be and what to do, with peace and joy as a result of my obedience. This process is something God is doing repeatedly in my life, in each way He reveals that I need to change, unlearn, let go, always one at a time. He does this because otherwise, my many sinful beliefs and habits would overwhelm me if we were to try to conquer them all at once. “The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.” -Deuteronomy 7:22

I am a sinner saved by grace, and my sins are many. But I’m thankful God is so gracious, so patient, He reveals and replaces my struggles and insufficiencies one at a time. The Bible reveals and addresses each root that causes my sinful choices and false beliefs. Then God and I work together to remove them. And when that one is conquered, the gracious Father reveals the next to me, but always with periods of rest when I need them, like two adventurers on a long journey who sometimes stop to rest along the way.

Each time I go through a hardship, a trial, a trauma or tragedy, I am faced with an opportunity: wallow in self-pity (and grow more self-indulgent with my coping mechanism of choice), let it embitter and harden me, or give it to God and let Him heal me. Let the sovereign, Almighty Father redeem it and me in the process, using it to shave away a part of me that didn’t need to be there, like an old skin that needs to be shed, like an old body that was dying and needed to regenerate. This is why I joke to close friends that I am ancient. I’ve been through many, many trials and tragedies, some packed closely together, even within months of each other. I have been through what I jokingly call many “regenerations.” I am no longer the preteen me trying to figure out if she is only a stereotypical nerd, Goth, punk, beachy-type, hippie, Hispanic, or a strange combination of these, as if any label could define my worth or could contain all God has created me to be. I am no longer the teenage girl who defined myself by the relationship I was in, or what her friends and family think of her accomplishments, as if any opinion or attention mattered more than God’s. I am no longer the bull-headed college sophomore whose mind is filled with passionate new ideas and arrogance in knowing them, and believes her way of thinking and doing life is best and everyone else is an idiot. I am no longer the new mom who judges others for doing things differently than she, or thinking I can/should control more than I actually can and burning myself out striving to. Nor am I the career woman who looks down on stay-at-home-moms, or the stay-at-home-mom who looks down on working women. I am no longer the career woman who is striving for the unreachable, unsustainable top or for perfection. I am no longer the do-it-all homemaker whose worth is defined by the status of the house—its cleanliness, full functionality, cute decor, with a fresh, purely healthy dinner on the table every night promptly at a certain time, perfect dinner parties with friends, etc. I am thankful God is making me new.

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I am, however, someone who is still working on not downplaying or being ashamed of my enjoymentment of good things, or apologizing for them or my joy anymore. I am someone who is replacing how I talk to myself with truth and kindness instead of criticism and berating. I’m learning how to jump off the hamster wheel of insecure thoughts (“you can’t do this!”) and remembering that God clears a path and equips us for ALL HE calls us to do. I am also not looking down on those who are still in places I have left behind or grown out of, and that includes my former selves. There are those who have already learned lessons I still need to, and vice versa. I am no longer the self-righteous, legalistic Christian who thinks I have all the answers for how everyone should live, or that all experiences can be equated to mine. I only know how to point people back to the One who showed me His answers, who replaced my understanding, who introduced me to true wisdom. I’m learning it is my job to encourage them in this, not look down on them, as if “I would never do such a thing” or as if I were better because I no longer do some things. I am also learning not to try to do their healing or relationship with Jesus for them, nor to be angry with them when they choose not to. No, I am not above temptation, because I know that having once given in to it, the temptation still exists, though it is quieted, and thankfully my desire for my past temptations most days is replaced with disgust or better understanding of the dissatisfaction of what the world offers. I also try to remember who bore my shame, who paid my price, and the gracious love He extends, so much better than any temptation.

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God is patient, long-suffering, and if we will surrender to Him, He makes ALL things, all people, all situations, new, better. I am a regeneration, a new, better version of many, many regenerations of my old self, ONLY because of HIM. It also means I don’t need to live under shame anymore for who I was. I’m not her anymore, by the grace of God (no matter who tries to bring up the past)! In “The Chosen” an absolute favorite quote of mine which I have on a shirt says: “I was one way, and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was HIM” —it was Jesus. He took some of the old desires I had and helped me realize how toxic, how pain-inducing they actually were, how unsatisfying the false promises of the enemy, how unfulfilling the “calories”, the “cost” of some “foods.” He showed me how useless the striving and the wrong pursuits were, and now He’s training me to instead keep my eyes on Him: “Seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness” [be like HIM and do what HE tells me to do and THEN] “and all these things will be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33) Then all our needs will be provided, then the change will happen, then our focus will be shifted off ourselves and onto His marvelous light which is the ONLY thing in this life worth chasing after; it’s worth forsaking everything for. A life with Jesus is worth losing our claws for, even if it means we live differently, scarred or maimed, in need of healing for a year or more. The merciful Savior doesn’t allow pain without purpose:

“In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born," says the Lord. "If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation," says your God. -Isaiah 66:9, NCV

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Only certain situations and people in life are allowed to “remove our claws,” and only at certain times, and only in the ways God, the Highest Authority, allows. And always when God removes, He replaces. God removes the old for new and better. Fresh, healed skin is waiting beneath the calluses God can and wants to remove. Truth is meant to replace the lies, healing and freedom in their place, and even joy at what God has done and is always still doing. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” -Job 1:21 Whatever He removes is for my benefit! Whatever He gives is an undeserved blessing! God replaces my heart of stone, my pathetic attempts at loving and achieving, my broken understanding, my limited wisdom, my misguided perception, with HIS better, with purpose and completeness I can’t create on my own! The Father teaches and helps me to know and do better. He replaces my old, sick desires, habits, and mentalities with healthy, satisfying ones. He uses my dreams (even replacing old with new and better ones) in ways I never could have imagined! He uses my skills to fulfill His kingdom purposes! “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” -2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus prunes away what is broken, useless, dead, and replaces it with growth, with what He causes to work for good. And in the process of all this “making new” the Good Shepherd “restores my soul.” (Ps. 23:3) I can completely trust the Father no matter what He removes or allows, because He makes all things new, and always better, to use for His perfect purposes, even when I can’t see it.

Needtobreathe sings “I’m a trainwreck; I’m a mess. You see the best and the worst in me. You grow Your roses on my barren soul.” Brandon Lake sings “You turn graves into gardens, You give beauty for ashes, You turn bones into armies, You turn seas into highways, You’re the Only One who can!”

“Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:19

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thankfulness-project-all-things-new

© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

Comments

Naude Lorenzo on April 26, 2021:

Each new article brings knowledge and wisdom indescribable you want to keep reading, Amanda, you are truly a beautiful mind, thank you

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