A lot of will know that my parents have been living in our attic throughout lock down – because they couldn’t get back to Portugal.
There have been a surprising number of perks to this somewhat crowded arrangement! Not least that my parents have a habit which means that whenever they stay somewhere, they like to improve the place to make it more habitable and leave it better than when they arrived.
This used to irritate me on family holidays as a teenager when Dad would start fixing a window shutter where we were staying and mum would spend ages cleaning, whilst we just wanted to get to the beach or wherever we were headed that day. But now they are staying in my house I’m rather fonder of this tendency…
Within a few days of them moving into our attic (we did offer our bedroom!) Dad started making home improvements – so now we have an insulated attic – which means it doesn’t get unbearably hot or cold!
However, in order to do this we had to clear all our junk out of the attic – Sam spent a whole day sorting through it. It is incredible the amount of stuff we cling on to! And find so hard to part with!
And yet, this was necessary – otherwise my Dad quite literally wouldn’t have been able to reach some of the walls to insulate them! For a time the house became more cluttered than it already was, we had to throw things away – some of which we had emotional attachments to even though we knew we’d never use them again!
But now we have another usable room, far more useful than it was before, my parents are more comfortable, and we will be able to have my sister and her husband to stay (when they’re allowed to) – without making them share a single mattress on the kid’s bedroom floor!
I wonder whether this experience is actually a picture of what we are being asked to do on a deeper level right now as a society.
We may be longing for things we did and ways we lived prior to lock down, this time may not be comfortable, and letting go of those things certainly isn’t something a lot of us want to do.
But could it be that if we will let go and embrace this time of change, however uncomfortable, God will open up new and better things…
The process of change as new things are created can be difficult – sometimes our own mistakes make it hard (like our hoarding in our attic!), sometimes other’s mistakes complicate things (Dad had to spend a whole day sorting out something that had been done badly and unsafely by a previous owner of our house) – but if we go through this time, we make space for something better…
At new year several of us in the church felt drawn towards these verses in Isaiah – and they seem all the more relevant now:
Isaiah 43: 18-19:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
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.”
God is speaking to his people; He is promising to show his mercy on their former mistakes, he is showing them a way forwards despite the difficult place they find themselves in.
But he asks them not to dwell in the past – what might we be clinging to? Or what might we be struggling to forget about? Whether that be things we long for, or whether it be mistakes we made that we can’t seem to forgive ourselves for.
God is doing a new thing – HE will show us the way forward. And if we dare to trust him, to accept his guidance, then he will reveal a way far better than any we could dream up for ourselves. He is making the way – but will we follow it, however uncomfortable the process might feel?
Let’s spend some time this week acknowledging former things we need to forget…
And then some time listening and looking for where God might be forging new ways for us to follow…