New Wine in Old Wineskins

Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Luke 5:38-39

Last night I had a dream that my skin was splitting and my insides were falling out.  But instead of blood and guts and organs, what came out was tomatoes.  The inside of tomatoes.  The seeds and squishy insides.  I could feel them falling out.  A physical sensation so real that when I woke up, I nervously passed my hand over my abdomen to make sure that there were no stitches or open wound still.  No seeds sprinkled on my blankets.

Disturbing, but I managed to fall back asleep.  I don’t remember any of my other dreams from the night.  That one stuck with me mostly because it wasn’t hard to call to mind that sensation -which wasn’t painful, just one of the weirdest things you will ever feel.  To feel something falling out of your body is strange.   I’ve never had stitches, but in the dream, someone was trying to sew up the tear in my skin.  Squeezing it together and threading it close.  I didn’t want to move or twist my torso for fear of re-breaking it.

For a while I’ve felt like a new person living in an old way of life.  I’ve grown beyond who I was and changed so much on the inside.  I feel solid and strong, ready to live out a calling.  But I haven’t felt like I’m being constrained or held back, stuck in a skin too small.  (Though sometimes it is frustrating that people who have known me for a long time still assume I am still shy and afraid and self-conscious because I am still quiet.  That is not true.  I will always be an introvert and more of a listener and observer rather than a big talker, but that doesn’t mean it is because I am afraid to speak.)

But maybe I didn’t realize it until the skin burst.  Until I realized it was time to shed the old.  To leave behind the illusion that I am a young adult in transition, trying to figure out life and my place in it, or any other “me” that people have known in the past (the girl in elementary school or high school or college).  I don’t even need to take that skin off.  It’s lying on the ground like an old garment.  I know who I am and what I’m about.  It’s time that others see the real thing too.

That morning I happened to read the opening chapter of Ecclesiastes.  (You know, that book that starts out, “Vanity of vanities!  All is Vanity!  Etc.”)   It continues to read, “What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!  Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us” (Eccl 1:9-10).  Life is feeling old and stale to the speaker.  Meaningless.  Like nothing is worth doing.

I think we’ve all been in that place before.  When you’re so hungry that you can’t decide what to eat and so don’t end up eating anything.  When you can’t decide what to do –deciding itself seems like a chore and takes too much effort—and so you end up doing nothing.

Or when nothing really strikes you as enough.  When you think nothing you do will make that much of a difference so why bother?

Or in realizing your own smallness.   That someone before you has already made the same realizations as you and that someone after you will be just as smart as you so what you can really contribute to humanity or make your mark on?

But what really struck me was the line that nothing new existed.

And I thought, ‘No that’s not true.  There is something new under the sun.  I am new.”  I have been changed into something I wasn’t before.  No one will ever be or has been me and I will never go back to who I was before.  I know because God was the one to change me.  He is the one who has poured Himself into me and established who I am.  And no one can take it away.  No can remove his Spirit from me.  Like sorting out different colored grains of sand once they have been mixed together.  Even closer.

And I will be ever new.  I will always be breaking skins.  They were meant to be broken.  Let me never say, “The old is good.”  Let me never say that my life is in vain.  Because if I never change anyone else or make my mark on the world, but do become someone better than who I was, that will be enough.  More than enough.