“Behold, I make all things new!” declares the risen Jesus at the end of the world and the end of the Bible (Rev. 21:5). We speak of having God open our eyes; we plead in worship, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord-I want to see you!” And yet, on a daily basis, not many of us-Christians included-can truly say with singer John Michael Talbot, “Behold now the Kingdom! See with new eyes!” The cares of this life come and crowd out the Word the Lord has planted in the soil of our lives, so that we see only with tired old eyes, blind to God in the world. We see bills and schedules, work and worry, pain and trouble, death and taxes. Occasionally, if we’re lucky or blessed, we catch a glimpse of humor or fun or beauty; if we’re really on a roll, there’s a touch of joy sometimes.
And those glimpses, those touches of the Master’s hand for brief moments of our life, are truly all that keeps many people going; the fact that they are few and far between is the reason so many spend their lives in misery and fear, growing old before their time and dying without ever really having lived. But there it is in black and white (or red, if you have one of those special bibles): “Behold, I make all things new!” Or in some translations, “I am making all things new!” or “I am making everything new!” (Not, as some think, “I am going to make all things new.” More on that in the next blog.) The different translations all say the same thing: God is in the business of constantly renewing the world. And, we are called to sing to him a new song (Ps. 40:3). His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22). He has written on our hearts and minds a new covenant (Jer. 31:31). He has given us the new wine of his Spirit and new wineskins to keep it in (Mt. 9:17). And he has given us a new commandment-love (Jn. 13:34). In Christ, we are new creations; Paul tells us that we can “behold, all things have become new ” (II Cor. 5:17). So how is it that we don’t see all things made new ?
I submit that it’s all the fault of that ridiculous voice inside our heads that keeps our eyes on us, our selfish nature, and our problems. It’s the ego-the false self-that old, sinful, carnal nature we inherited from Adam and Eve. It’s the impostor self, that voice in your head that claims to be the real you, that leads you to do things you know are wrong, that tells you what a wonderful person you are when you do something good and gets you to tell others what you’ve done, but never says a word when you sin. Or if it does, it tells you you’re an absolute dirtbag that God couldn’t possibly love or accept. Both extremes are total lies. Yes, it started with that serpent in the garden, but we don’t need Satan at our side every moment to blind us to the beauty, the wonder, the grace of life. That ongoing pack of lies inside called the false self, the old nature, does a fine job even if we never come near Satan. And in order for us to see the glorious truth that all things are continually being made new by God, every moment that we live-that God himself is and has always been new every moment since before the universe began-we have to learn to silence the deadly voice of the false self.
Contemplative prayer does just that. It’s a time of giving your thoughts to God, every one of them, knowing they all either come from or are filtered through the false self. So-sit down to pray, and every time you catch yourself thinking, stop and focus your mind on God and give that thought to him, and in the process you will be giving him your total attention and affection and love, just for that moment. Just for that moment, you set your mind and heart fully on things above and not on earthly things; just for that moment you are dead to self, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:2). Do that for a few minutes a few times a day, or twenty minutes once or twice a day, and you’ll begin to see with new eyes; you’ll begin to recognize that, indeed, you are invited by God to look into the silent, turbulent, boundless mystery of creation of all things being made new every time you blink.