by Karen Russell
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2Co 5:17 NRS)
It happens in the blink of an eye. One moment you have a life that’s familiar, it’s yours. The next moment, everything has changed. The recent spate of tornadoes in Alabama, the flooding in my former home in Western Kntucky (as well as the entire lower Ohio and lower Mississippi valleys), earthquakes, tsunamis, hail, fire, aneurysm, stroke, auto accident – any one of these things can become what a friend once called a “life-quake.” It throws everything out of kilter and makes mush out of everything you once relied upon. The life that was is gone. Without time to be prepared, you have a new life, one you didn’t plan. I am a survivor of such a moment that resulted in a new life being thrust upon me. But a decade later, I am settled into this new life and can imagine no other. And the world moves on.
The four lane highway in Tuscaloosa, AL that served as my transition from one life to another a decade ago is now flattened, as gone as that old life. The scene of my own life-quake is now the scene of an entire city’s life-quake. That four lane highway was the beginning of a journey from the life that was to the life that is. And now that highway is on a journey of its own, bringing along thousands of others to places where a new life was thrust upon them, brought by raging wind and funnel clouds.
New life doesn’t always come easily, isn’t always welcome, and the transition often isn’t smooth. But as someone who has made that difficult journey down a four lane highway into a different life, I can testify that this new life has an element of joy and thankfulness that the old life did not. And as the old continues to pass away and is made new things I used to take for granted are treasured. Conversely, things that were highly valued no longer seem worth my time and energy. Priorities have re-aligned in ways I find useful and fulfilling. Things that travelled with me from the old life to the new now serve different purposes. Things I once treasured have been gladly given away. I stopped longing for the old life quite some time ago, which allowed me to live this new life. But new life is hard.
My brother and his wife just welcomed a new baby. This newest addition to our family arrived via an emergency C-section, five weeks early and after months of bed rest by her mother. Preparation for this new life was hard; delivery of this new life was hard; the first weeks after the arrival of this new life is hard, and life is very different than if this determined young girl arrived in a more traditional way. But as they take one day at a time, adjusting to the rhythm of their new life that includes visiting their daughter in a neo-natal intensive care unit, the joy in this new life is already apparent. And they do not long for the way life was without her.
New life is hard. A new life in Christ asks us to re-align our priorities, give up things we value and surrender our claim on every aspect of our life. To remember the way things were only so we can appreciate the way things are – and anticipate the way things will be.