Wineskins and sunsets: the danger of going back to what we know

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The strangest thing happened to me today.  There I was on the 101, windows down, soaking up the sunlight, catching glimpses of the ever-beautiful California coast. It was glorious.  And after a very full (and very fun) weekend, I thought, why not stop for a bit and catch my breath by the ocean?

So I turned into a beach I’d never been to before, only to realize, I don’t know these beaches.  I don’t quite know what to expect.  Is it a good beach?  Do I pay?  Where do I park?  And since that sort of thing kind of bothers me, I turned around and decided to stop at the beach we always go to, the one closest to home.

But right before I reached the exit, these HUGE, dark, thunderous clouds came rolling in out of nowhere!  Stupidly, I kept heading toward the beach, only to run into this mass exodus of disgruntled tourists trying to escape the storm.

As pitiful as it sounds, I was so angry.  It was perfectly sunny the entire drive up to that point.  I had already pictured myself, toes in the sand, watching the sun set over the waves, reading and praying and having my own wonderful little moment.  I said to God (only half-expecting any response), “Please, tell me there’s a point to this! Is there something You’re trying to teach me, here?”

On my way back home, I became annoyed with myself.  I thought about my tendency to go back to what is safe, and known, and predictable…and how sometimes my fears simply get in the way of what could be better.  (Oh, if I had only ventured on when I stopped at that other beach…)

It reminded me of some things God has been revealing lately…about how scared I am of making bold decisions…about how hesitant I am to step into things I know God has set on my heart.

As I pondered all of this, the words old wineskins came to mind.

Old wineskins?

Old wineskins.  Jesus said that if we pour new wine into old wineskins, it will make them burst and ruin the wine.

And then it hit me.

Sometimes, God does something new in us, and it’s a big deal.  It changes everything.  Maybe it’s a new conviction, or a new calling, or a new revelation.  But instead of walking fully into it, we find ourselves going back to what we’ve always known, trying to take what is new and fit it into what we’ve always done and who we’ve always been…and it doesn’t really work for us anymore, and it stifles the new work God has begun, and it causes us to miss out on things that are better.

I don’t want to miss out on any more sunsets because I’m afraid to explore unknown territory.  And I don’t want to mess with what God has made new by going back to my old ways of doing and being.

Lord, give us the courage to follow Your lead.

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