on risk. and imperfection.
I love new.
New represents so much possibility. so much pure opportunity.
New is a blank canvas, clean and ready for the story and emotion of paint to come.
New is the moment before the shutter clicks. when an image is nothing more than a visual story in the viewfinder, a secret belonging only to the one behind the lens.
New is a blank page ready for words. a song not yet written. a raw and pure melody gracing the ears of listeners for the first time.
New is a first date, a recent engagement, and a wedding day.
It’s the part of a race when you’re toeing the line, anticipation, doubt, and nerves pulsing through your legs. the beginning of a new season. the 0:00 on the game clock. an untainted 0-0 score.
New is free of critique or the negative effects of age and free from objective realities like numbers and statistics. New can’t be criticized. It just shines with opportunity to be better, faster, more beautiful, more on target. New is romantic and idealistic to its core. It’s untainted and graced with illusive perfection.
New is unknown, which can be scary, but also extremely exciting.
But new quickly passes. The moment is gone in an instant. Ambiguous and idealistic ideas of opportunity become current reality and daily life. Newness transitions into history at the never-slowing down and never speeding up, steady rate of 24 hours a day. The starting gun fires and the kick-off happens. Strokes and colour hit the canvas, words fill the page, and images take shape.
I keep thinking of new lately - probably because so much of my life is fresh with “new” right now - a new city, new season, new semester, new church, new community, new job, new relationships, and a new training plan.
And there’s a huge part of me that realizes that moving past new is a huge risk. There’s always that moment of hesitation before you add colour to a canvas (what if I mess it up?), take your first stride (what if I haven’t trained enough?), play the first note (what if it isn’t “perfect”?), or write the first paper (what if I don’t get the grade I want?), because once you start, new is gone forever. And once new becomes now, choices, moments, and actions are permanent and performances evaluated.
Now is irreversible, often hard, and nearly always messy.
There’s a temptation then, to never move past new. A temptation to simply talk about it, idolize it, and dream about it - but never take the risk to actually get there (even though the “there” rarely looks how we think it will).
But newness, without risk, means absolutely nothing.
New, without risk, doesn’t actually change anything or anyone.
No one care who started the race, we care who finished and how fast they ran. No cares about the 16 teams that start the playoffs, we care about the one who hoisted the cup at the end. Or about the countless papers and tests that comprise a semester - the only result we want is the cumulative GPA.
A wedding is nothing to speak of. But 20, 30, 60+ years of faithful love and sacrifice in a marriage is, and there is little new about that kind of sustained beauty.
No one cares who had a dream. We care who pursued it, sacrificed time and money and other pursuits for it, laboured faithfully over it, and one day (far down the line from the clean “new” stage) saw it come to pass. (Or didn’t, and still gave it all they had anyway.)
What matters is the journey. What is remembered is the end result.
A page was meant to be written on. A canvas meant to be painted. A game meant to be played. A race meant to be run. A song meant to be played. A church meant to be lived. A community and city meant to be invested in. And Kingdom dreams meant to be chased.
Risk is necessary. Consistent risk is necessary. Day-in-and-day-out. Risk starts small. and could often more accurately be called faithfulness or steadfastness.
There’s definitely a piece of the Kingdom in the beauty of new. New is inspiring and visionary. It’s goals that we haven’t “failed” at yet and dreams that we still hold on to and still believe in. It isn’t tainted by bitterness or failure or what other people think.
But the audacity and life-changing beauty of the gospel isn’t meant to keep hope for change and belief in beauty & lasting impact on a shelf where it looks perfect. The gospel is the audacity to move past the hope of new, into the vulnerability of now, saturated in the brokenness that is this world, and to still cling to the hope of lasting change and stunning beauty in the midst of the messiness.
We have to take that child-like faith and those bold dreams and actually take steps forward. We may not get “there”, but taking the risk to step forward actually makes the new become the now. “Failure”, as unappealing as it may be, is always more meaningful than living in the inactivity and fear of never moving past the mere idea of the new.
That’s what’s so incredible about Abba. Abba is both newness (His mercies are new with each morning) and endurance/longevity. He’s the author of new beginnings, new creations, and restoration, yet He’s also the absolute best at sustainability and faithfulness until the end.
He’s the stain of sin washed white as snow and the one who loved and loves us fully and completely at every stage - stained or clean. He’s the fire of revival, fresh passion, and and the forever burning all-consuming fire and the steadfast, unchanging Rock-of-Ages on whom we can bank everything. He’s the creator of life and the One who sustains every breathe and ounce of beauty and hope found around us.
I love the perfection of new, but I’ll take the day-in-and-day-out mix of mistakes, shortcomings, “failures”, messiness, and vulnerability of now over new any day.
Because, even in its imperfection, with His grace, it actually can change something.