I was at the kitchen sink, tiredly washing dishes, when I heard the sound of shattering glass outside. I sighed, asking myself, “what now?”. So many things had been breaking lately. Some of them trivial, some of them expensive, but all of them broken. All of them discouraging.
I walked outside to investigate and saw my 12 year old standing barefoot and surrounded by shards. He was carrying two empty crockpots, but one of their lids had slipped off and been destroyed at impact with the concrete pathway. Fortunately, it was the lid to my crockpot and not the one I had borrowed from a friend.
After instructing my barefoot son to slowly back up and find a new way into the house, and crowd-controlling all of the other barefoot children that were curious about the commotion, I began to clean up the mess. It was a moment to either laugh or cry, so I chuckled to the Lord. “Lord, You said that we shouldn’t put new wine into old wineskins. Well maybe you are also telling me that I can’t cook new soup in an old crockpot!” I meant it in jest, but then the seriousness of the situation saddened my heart a little.
I reminded God that if He wanted to keep allowing my things to break, He needed to start replacing them! If He truly is doing something new with our family, then I don’t want to be stuck in the middle between old and new: I want to get to the new! The old has been breaking off of us, but we have yet to experience God making things new. God restoring, rebuilding, and reshaping. It’s just been break, tear down, and remove.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” –Mark 2:22
The verse about new wineskins has been following me around lately. I’ve really felt that God is preparing us for something new, and something greater than before. So even though I have seen things literally breaking around me every day, I have had the hope and expectation that the old must leave for the new to come. I can have a semblance of peace watching things break, because I believe God will restore above and beyond what has been lost.
Yet…I still find myself impatient. Until today, when in the midst of all the breaking, I had a breakthrough:
I want my family to be that new wineskin: ready to hold and carry the new things that God is going to provide. However, I suddenly remembered what a wineskin is: the skin of an animal that has been dried and treated to hold the intended liquid.
It’s not a living animal—the animal has to be killed in order to become a wineskin. But once the animal is killed, the process is not over. The skin must be removed, dried, and treated through a process that takes time. And then the skin must be sewn into the shape that is desired. You can’t rush the process or the wineskin won’t work as intended!
Before you can have a new wineskin, a sacrifice must be made. A death must occur. Then, the contents of that carcass must be removed and the skin treated. Finally, the skin is sewn into the proper shape.
Before I can be a spiritual wineskin, ready for the new things God has for me, a sacrifice must be made. A death must occur. I must die to myself. I must cast away the things of my flesh, in favor of being a carrier of godly things. But after the death, there is still a process that must occur! The process God uses to prepare us cannot be rushed, or we will not be ready for what He intended!
Wow! When I remember that God has created order and process, with purpose for each step, I can gain a little bit more patience. Just like the roots of a plant begin to grow before we ever see a sprout above the dirt, God has an order in which He does things. Sure, He can make the sun stand still, but He is still a God that has a brilliant plan. Why should I dishonor Him by suggesting that His process is unnecessary? If He says that my refinement period isn’t over, then it’s not over! If He says I’m not ready to hold the new wine, then I’m not ready. He is God and I am not.
Patience with the process is still something I will have to work on. However, when I can remember to work with God’s process, instead of fighting against it, I will be encouraged by the progress. He is doing a new thing! But He is still the same yesterday and today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
- A new wineskin requires a new sacrifice. Is there something of flesh in my life that I have not been willing to put to death?
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24
- To get a new wineskin, we must go through a process of refinement and transformation. A fresh animal hide is not ready! Am I fighting the spiritual refinement, or working with it?
“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
- Before a new wineskin is ready, it must be shaped in a way that allows it to hold what it is intended to hold! If wine was poured onto a piece of prepared skin, the skin cannot hold anything unless it has been sewn into shape. Am I allowing God to bend and shape me?
He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:5
Ultimately, I need to remain mindful that I am the creation not the Creator. Whether I’m a clay pot, wineskin, or another vessel, I will never be able to hold what He has for me unless I allow Him to work in my life and complete the process. Instead of wasting my energy and emotions being impatient, I should worship while God does new things in my life. And instead of mourning the old and broken things, I can celebrate the anticipation of how He is making all things new.