I’m sitting in my sister-in-law’s dining room, tapping away on my keyboard while admiring a massive poinsettia plant — its red flowers abloom — still adorning her long table.
My husband Dan and I are her house guests, and during the holiday part of our visit, she had apologized several times for not putting out Christmas decorations per usual. So no gigantic tree with lights and ornaments. No garlands along the staircase. No porcelain angels and other pretty holiday knickknacks on every other surface.
Instead, during these challenging times, she’d settled on something new. Thus, the poinsettia instead of a Christmas tree. And the feeling to her? “Liberating.”
I can relate because I also did a new thing in the past year. I added entertainment writing to my writing tool box, surprised to discover that by doing this new thing, I was freed to do it for God.
I didn’t see it that way at first. Instead, I started writing a fictional story — a new path for me — because I heard our gentle Jesus say this: Fear not (John 14:27).
It’s the first step to taking a scary risk — especially when trying something new. So, with God’s help, I tried a new thing during the pandemic summer of 2020, and now I’m a humbled author of a fledgling Christian mystery series.
I took it on, in fact, with absolutely zero expectations. I told my husband, “If nothing comes of this, that’s okay. It’s more important that I tried.”
To be honest, however, I did want something of consequence to come of it. But if it all came to naught, the trying was what mattered. I felt sure of that and still do. Our trying glorifies God. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
So, the second step of trying a new thing? Giving ourselves permission.
We get that go-ahead from God Himself. In His wisdom, the Lord made a way for His people “through the sea, a path through the mighty waters” of the Red Sea — a mighty deliverance (Isaiah 43:16).
But then the surprise? Forget those things, He says. As the Lord, through Isaiah, tells them in verses 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?”
Regarding this warning, the New Living Translation minces no words when it comes to moving forward by not looking back:
“Forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun. Do you not see it?”
It’s one of the most remarkable reminders in all of the Bible. First, forget former things, including victories, triumphs, ups and downs. Then, fan the fire for something new. Don’t know how it’s going to pan out? Dream about it anyway — bravely, to move forward. Then, work on it, if you dare.
The most important reminder, however? Do our new thing for God.
As Isaiah prophesied, our Creator God is “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland . . . to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself” (Isaiah 43:19-20).
“That they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).
Don’t you see it?, the Lord asks us. Can’t you visualize it? Does your vision board depict not what you can do by yourself but what God alone can do?
In the end, trying something new isn’t to promote ourselves to God’s kingdom but to help make God more known. So, if you’re looking for a reason to try something new in 2022, pointing people to God — by doing a new thing that requires His strength and courage — is the best reason to even try.
That’s how I feel working on the next mystery novel. It requires so much from me — a vision and courage that I can’t stir up on my own — that it surely will point people not to me but to the Lord.
Now, what is a new thing that challenges you in that way? What will you try in 2022 that will show off the Lord making a new way in your wilderness, its parched riverbeds overflowing with streams of living water?
Is your new thing good and difficult but wonderful? Do you need God to make it happen? Dive in and try.