A New Thing
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. -Isaiah 43:18-19
It is hard not to dwell on the past, especially while navigating wilderness and wasteland, and even more so when that kind of trauma is all you know. It is also hard to look to the future, to see the new things God is doing, when life has just been…well, hard. The last 12 months have certainly brought in the hard, for everyone. Hard situations, hard decisions…even hard hearts. But…as we continue to celebrate and reflect on Jesus’ hard work on the cross this Easter season, we ought to remember just that—wasn’t it terribly hard for Jesus to endure what He did? For our perfect, all-knowing, all powerful Jesus to submit himself to God’s perfect will must have been hard! We read this when He prays and begs God to take the cup of His wrath if He is willing (Luke 22:42, Mark 14:36). What human man would want to suffer in this way? Jesus was, after all, fully human as well as fully God, and He knew what was about to happen. But Jesus understood that the Father’s will was above all else, and best, and demonstrates that it is understandable to be afraid when we are called to suffering and sacrifice. Sometimes we are called as a lamb to the slaughter, just as our Lord Jesus was, and this is an essential part of our sanctification and becoming more like Him. And although we may suffer as our Lord did, we can also be sure that we will rise with Him.
Because He is doing a new thing! He is making a way through the hard situations, decisions, and hearts to reveal Himself and our great need for Him. We see this every day in our ministry here at COC. We are seeing students being drawn to the love and promises of God; students who if their stories were told would bear witness that it is possible to not dwell on the past. Students that when we first took them on made us wonder if we’d ever make any progress. Students who walk through wilderness and wasteland daily. But God! He shows us that we are all a work in progress. It is truly a blessing to work with these young people and lead them in the development of their relationship with God and knowledge of who He is. We do, in fact, see a new thing springing up, when we pause to reflect. Indeed it is sometimes difficult as this life moves so fast and the kids grow up even faster. They grow as quickly as the strawberries and tomatoes we planted!
And yes, our garden is growing! We’ve been able to take almost every group out to pick and eat strawberries and cherry tomatoes before we begin for the day. It is so exciting for them to pick fruit from plants they planted, with their friends. The time we get to spend picking strawberries together is more than precious, and such a beautiful, simple way for us to begin our time together. We also just put our first set of spring plants in—zucchini, carrots, collard greens, and herbs! We built trellises in March with some of our older students for viny plants and will be planting cucumbers and green beans this week. We are looking forward to these plants growing more fruit for us to use this summer to teach the kids how to can and preserve fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy all year round.
As Justin and I have meditated on Jesus sacrifice this Holy Week, we just want to take a moment to express our love and gratitude to all who have stood by and supported us, the COC directors, through this very hard year. We have had many challenges this year as youth ministers trying to do ministry, but also as a married couple. Those who are very close to us know that we have been praying and trying for a child of our own now for several years, only to experience two early pregnancy losses since September 2020, with no answer as to why. Behind the scenes, we have been devastated by this grief, but it has proved to be defining of our faith in Christ. Many days are just hard. Many days, we feel none of it makes sense. Many days, we could seriously give in to the sadness, dwell on the past, and only perceive the wasteland and wilderness, and not the new thing He is doing. We are blessed, however, that God has given us the grace we need for today, even in grief. We are comforted by the suffering of the Savior. And aren’t we refined by the fires we’re called to walk through? We can most certainly understand now more than ever before what taking up your cross daily really means. During this time of being tested, it has become clear to us that trusting God’s will is really the only option, just like Jesus in the garden. So, thank you. The love shown through our brothers and sisters in Christ has been a direct encouragement and lifeline during a personal season that resonates with wilderness and wasteland.
If you are taking up your cross today, we pray you are also comforted by our Savior who understands, and that you will trust him. May His peace and blessing be upon you.
Prayers: Please pray for our students as they continue to learn memory verses and books of the Bible. Please also pray for the shipment of our new elementary study Bibles, as they have been backordered, that they would arrive as soon as possible.
In His Service,
Justin & Shannon Tellez
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