September 28, 2017 • Life for Leaders
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised to do a new thing for his people. Yes, in the past, God had done marvelous things, most of all delivering the Israelites from Egypt (Is 43:16-17). But he wasn’t finished. In fact, God was beginning through the prophecies of Isaiah to do something new. Yet this new work wasn’t very obvious in the time of Isaiah. Israel still faced hard times and the prospect of foreign domination. Surely they would have wondered: “Where is the new thing God has promised? Why can’t we see it now?”
You and I confront a similar situation. Scripture proclaims to us that if anyone is in Christ, that person has been made new and begins to participate in the reality of the new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Yet when we look at our lives, when we see our failures and frustrations, we often can’t see the new thing God has done in us. If he were to ask, “Do you not see it?” our answer might well be, “No. I really don’t.”
So how can we see God’s renewing work in our lives? There are no easy answers, no quick solutions. We need to look carefully and prayerfully at what God is doing in and through us. In times of quiet, we review our lives with the Spirit’s help, noting not only our struggles, but also our growth in Christ. Such reflection helps us cooperate with God in his renovation of our lives. Moreover, it gives us a reason for gratitude as we thank the Lord for his new work within us.
Sometimes, I find that others can help me see God at work in me when I cannot. At points in my life, I have been helped to see the Spirit’s work in me through members of a small group. At other times, I have been helped by a spiritual director. My wife, Linda, also reminds me of ways God is at work in me when I feel discouraged. The insights of others don’t lead me to boastfulness however. I’m not encouraged to think of how wonderful I am. Rather, I am once again able to see just how wonderful God is—how gracious, patient, and loving.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How has God been renewing you?
In what aspects of your life do you sense God’s presence and power?
How would you like to experience God’s new work today?
Gracious God, even as Israel had a hard time seeing your new work, so it is with me sometimes. I can get overly focused on my failures and sins. I’m only too aware of how I fall short of your intentions for me. It’s not wrong for me to admit my sin so that I might confess it to you. But I can neglect the positive, failing to see how you are alive in me. Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I overlook your transforming work in my life. Help me to see what you’re doing, so that I might thank you, and so that I might cooperate with you in your renovation project.
Thank you, dear Lord, for the new work you’re doing in me. Thank you for making me more like you. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for your Spirit, who guides and empowers and transforms. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Reconciling the Whole World (2 Corinthians 5:16–21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.