Nothing New on the Horizon
It’s a pretty harmless question. Most of the time, when we ask this question it’s a simple starting point in a conversation with a friend. But it can sometimes incite angst within the mind if you can’t answer it. The problem, however, is never about not being able to answer this simple yet, probing question. The problem is that so often we are dissatisfied with our answer to the question.
There are seasons of life where updates, accomplishments, new relationships and jobs make answering that question something to look forward to. In contrast, there are seasons of life when the answer can leave us feeling disappointed - when we recall recent memories, we see a montage of the same routine, people and places.
So how can you answer that question when everything in your life within the last month, maybe even year has been the same, no better, no worse? Is it ok to reply, “Nothing,” “Same ol’ same?” Well, of course it’s ok because it’s a reasonably acceptable answer, but sometimes we feel the “nothing” that isn’t happening equates to lack in our lives.
That deception of lack may have us believing we’re not as productive, motivated or even as significant as others.
We get caught in a trap that has us believing that always having something new to do means that we’re meeting the standards of success, and doing our part to keep the hustle going. Sometimes, we might even spiritualize it by believing if we don’t have anything new happening, then we’re not bearing fruit.
How do you reconcile that God is still moving in your life, that you are in fact bearing fruit when you’ve been doing the same thing, day-in and day-out over an extended period of time? How do you keep believing that God is moving in your life when you feel you’re only moving in circles, around and around, doing the same things over and again?
Just within the last year I’ve had to confront this deception of lack in my life. As someone whose journeyed through an entire year of not having steady work and has continuously applied, all the while remaining involved in areas of volunteering and continuing to walk through life with friends who’ve moved on to new and big things, I can attest to feeling disappointed when telling people there’s nothing new happening in my life. There were things taking place, but nothing aside from what I had already been doing: job searching, serving at church, family life, etc. Weeks and months would pass, and I was often greeted with, “Hey! What have you been up to?”
I have to admit, that at times my response would often be filled with frustration, simply leaving it at, “the same.”
After a while I began to ask myself, “Why do I feel frustrated? Is it really all that bad?” The truth was, I wanted to be able to tell people something fresh was happening, something exciting was on the horizon, but that was because I wanted all my efforts to be validated. I wanted to maintain my standard of “hustling” and being a go-getter. I falsely believed that God was only working in the newness of things, not realizing that God works in the routine of life as well.
What was ironic about all of this was that part of the disappointment I experienced, stemmed from the pressure I felt to impress people or meet the expectations they had of me. I now see, how much of a trap that is.
There’s nothing wrong with hoping for something new, or working towards change; in fact, God’s word tells us that He makes things new and encourages us to have faith that He is working on our behalf.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19, English Standard Version)
But, His word also confirms that in our seasons of wilderness we don’t have to fret about whether we’re actually moving forward and producing fruit—even in the mundaneness of life.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, ESV)
As I continue to journey through my current season, which as of yet has not yielded anything new, this verse reminds me that even now I am still producing and bearing fruit by the simple act of remaining faithful to walking out this season of my life. When we are faithful in the routines, whether it is the repetitive schedule of being a student, mom or working professional, we are learning to journey through life. In remaining faithful by simply walking out your life, you don’t have to feel embarrassed or disappointed by what appears to be the lack of something new ahead. More often than not, our walk of faith is lived out by patiently and persistently walking through the everyday routine of life.
So, the next time someone asks, “What’s new?” If you find yourself hesitant to answer, or scrounging for a response that is anything but “nothing,” I encourage you to look past the events and things you feel aren’t happening and instead reflect on what God is revealing to you about your journey.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.