16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
I’m a sold-out wino.
I’ve read Matthew 9:16-17 a dozen times and it’s never seemed to apply to my life. The passage is about wine and I didn’t even LIKE wine until recently. I believe I’ve finally gotten used to the sensation of battery acid scraping down my throat, followed by the rancid flavor of spoiled grape juice.
Seriously, though. Wine has become strangely delicious. I now taste hints of chocolate, berry and smokey oak with each sip! Or at least I pretend I do since that’s what the guy at the winery told me to taste.
For so long I was told what to think and what to taste when I read this passage, that I missed the personal application it provides. For so long I’ve been carrying a burden, and I’ll bet my first at-the-moment-unborn child I’m not the only one who carries this burden.
The burden that I’m referring to is the Burden of the Past. Those of us who have had the privilege of growing up in Christ-centered homes, as opposed to meeting God later in life, face our own growing pains.
You all know the stereotypical story of a young Christian… we grow up on Sunday School fishy crackers and hideously-scribbled coloring pages depicting Daniel in the lions’ den or David and Goliath, we know John 3:16 by heart at the age of 4 and we accept Jesus into our hearts as wee babes. We’re in perfect-little-angel-training. We have no idea what true guilt feels like. What true separation from God feels like.
We then enter junior high, maybe even high school, before the first temptation to stray from our perfect Christian life is handed to us in a joint or bottle of beer, or found in the beautiful girl or popular guy giving us eyes across second period English.
Usually that stereotypical Christian kid ends up exploring the reason humanity needs a Savior. I know I did.
We get drunk. We do drugs. We have sex. We dishonor our families. We lie, steal, cheat, swear… we sin. We sin a whole lot in very obvious ways. And beneath our cool facade, we feel terrible about it.
Every so often, we will feel a now-forlorn call from a soul we buried deep away, prodding us to remember our scripture-memorizing days. And for a while, we find comfort again in His Word. We pledge we will return to our ways of youth. We will return to the pure child we once were and grind our nose to the stone to prove to ourselves, and to the ones chewing their nail-beds in agony because of our wayward behavior, that we are worthy of His love.
But here’s the kicker. We can never go back.
What’s done is done. Do you really believe a magical amount of Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s are going to completely erase all those moments in bed with that random person or all those times we consciously chose the world over Jesus? They aren’t.
But there is hope.
There is grace. He can renew us, He can restore us, and if we ask Him to, He can lessen the memories of our disobedience. Erasing what we’ve done from our past -to my knowledge- is not possible. But God’s grace covers it all. He makes us white as the glistening snow at first light after a storm.
We need to stop listening to the lie that we have to get BACK to the person we WERE in order to proceed with Christ, and move FORWARD with the person we ARE now to His eternal and never ending supply of grace. Because we will never be able to go back. And why would we want to go backwards anyway? His compassion and lovingkindnesses are New. Every. Morning*
Our clothing is made new in Christ, why sew it to the past? Our wine is new, why waste it and burst the old wineskin? Our past, our old cloth and old wineskin, is now our sinful self AND our childhood faith.
Every time I’ve tried patching my old life with new, endeavoring to return to who I used to be, I’ve ruined both pieces leaving a messier despair in me than ever before. He says in Isaiah 43 to, “18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.19 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.”
I now leave any of that patching to Christ and focus on making new wine, savoring the new wine, and blessing the grace of new wine. I give my entire past to Christ. I choose to move forward.
I’m a wino. How about you?
*22The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”… Lamentations 3:22-24