It was only about 7 years ago that dignity was totally stripped from me.
Fingers were cracked and inflamed such that I could no longer hold an instrument anymore and i couldn’t even type with all my fingers. It got to a point that I could no longer smile or opened my mouth wide, else it would split my partially cracked lips. I would be forced to “frown”, and speak in hushed, more intelligible tones.
Hence, I gave up the spark of music that I had in me.
I didn’t give up the longing to experience music – that was augmented. My feel and appreciation for music deepened tenfold. There’s nothing like grappling with real evil and hopelessness that brings out deeper meaning in the music, especially the ones inundated with Christian soul. But I lost something more important, the idea that I would be able to share such music with the world. How could my eyes, ears and heart see the immense potential of the output of these instruments, and yet I could no longer handle them, or within be able go outside of my bedroom? How could God increase my appetite for music that moves the soul and open a whole new world of beauty; and yet, at the same time, forcibly remove my ability to share it?
Such a dramatic compromise. Is it ironic?
Like Alanis Morrisette said, “it’s like meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife.”
How cruel was God to ignite my passion to be a musician and dancer for Him, and then forcibly strip those dreams away due to a physical disease that had no cure?
This was the old.
This was my darkest moment. Not because it’s was “too physically painful”, but because my soul was ripped from me. I lost the ability to smile and lost my dreams to express myself. The world has shown me that it was not interested in my life.
If life was a basketball tournament, then there are winners, losers… and the guy that came with a football… totally different skill-set and different rules. Was I disqualified before it’s even begun?
Hands that used to drum could not do so anymore. Vocal cords lost their muscle memory and I could not sing on pitch a day later when I practiced the day before. Mind was numb due to drugs that I couldn’t remember chords of songs I learnt a day ago. Body was too painful to go to outside locations to perform.
This period was the start of me crying out for God to redo my life. The one thing I know from the Bible is that God is the God of new things. I told Him, “I have read and re-read your bible, I have sought out what you have said through analysis of multiple theologians and skeptics. I see what your Grace is all about. Everything I have is yours. If you are indeed real, then let me experience THIS GRACE.”
I didn’t want Him to repair my life, that is too trivial for Him. That is too trivial for GRACE. That is what we humans expect. The Grace in the Bible is far superior. That’s why the Gospel is called Good News. The old Ken is too damaged.
The God of the Bible is a God of New Things.
See the new thing in the wasteland? The newness of life? The new creation? New intoxicating wine? New wine skins?
NEW. 新. חָדָשׁ. νέος
Fast forward. It’s 7 years later.
I’m wondering what a roller-coaster of a 7 years I’ve had.
The Harry Potter or Star Wars drama has nothing on me.
Doctors are puzzled how after 20 years, it’s finally manageable.
People that thought I was a wash-out are now in silent pondering – still trying to figure me out.
But let them think what they will think.
There are now whispers of old dreams resurrecting. What I thought was dead and buried is stirring. Yet, it’s not coming back like it used to be. It’s coming back differently. With a newer, deeper passion and ambition.
There’s a newness. I’m strangely not picking up where I left off. It seems that I find myself picking up farther ahead than I thought. Is that what Grace does? We can seem to advance even when the we are in prison. I do have new ideas about music and inspiration even when I stopped playing an instrument for years. I find myself thinking to myself, “did I just write that poem? Did I just write that verse?” I never actively wrote songs at all during those years. Yet somehow, inspiration grew in the dark?
Here’s a couple words to articulate what I can’t articulate in totality.
Dead to life
that moment when true
back again new.
Do more than repair
God makes all things new
Don’t be afraid to do
beautiful as new things do
So TODAY, I STEPPED INTO A STUDIO. A new life requires a new song.
It’s wasn’t easy. A whole history of inspiration and defeats (more defeats than inspiration) greeted me at every step. Seemingly hesitant. Lots of pregnant pauses. But Jesus was holding my hand into a glorious unknown.
I’m actually afraid somewhat. This is what happens when you’ve been beaten down so long. For years, I couldn’t stand to even look at myself in the mirror – the person staring back at me was disfigured and scarred. My music was never that good in the first place. I was just a good amateur musician, nothing professional. But’s God’s newness always is accompanied by some “fear”. A good fear, because soon you are coming out of your comfort zone, with the suspicion that it will be better than we think.
Remember in Philippians 2 when we are extorted to “work out” our salvation in “fear and trembling”? This is not a bad “fear”. It’s actually a good “fear”. This fear is not most people think about. It’s not a fear about not hitting the mark. The whole Philippians was to point out how everything is about Christ, and how He is the one working (not you) to produce God’s will. We “fear” not because we can’t make the mark and are afraid God will punish us. Instead, we “fear” because we realize that “we can all ALL things through Christ that gives us strength.” (Phil 4:13). We “fear” because we’ve never met anyone with such unconditional love and endless supply for our needs. We “fear” because we know God has something amazing coming.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
We do this because we are New Creations.
See how God brings newness to everything.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Cor 5:17
We therefore were buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
Sing to the Lord a new song;
I am a new Creation (2 Cor 5:17) , and because of this, I will sing to Him a new song. (Ps 96:3). It might turn out “unprofessional” based on today’s standards, but it’s just a starting point to conquer my fears, and to redeem what the enemy has stolen. It’s a representation of other obstacles to be conquered, be it in business, career or relationships. Just do what we once thought was too difficult. Let God worry about the rest.
What are those things that you know you have to do that others never thought you could?
A new song? Climb a big mountain? Forgive that unforgivable person? Make that short film? Become that perfect partner? Teach others something only you can teach? Make that successful business? Conquer the stock market? Be a pastor? Reflect Jesus?
Friends, get out there and do something you’ve been too scared to do. Make the world take notice. That’s what new things do. Do you look the part? No? I’m sure that’s what Goliath thought when he saw the shepherd boy David.
Post thoughts: Before, we had to do all sorts of things (Law) to earn God’s blessing (Grace). But Jesus fulfilled all those things on the cross. Today, it’s all in reverse, we don’t obey the Law in order to earn God’s grace. We accept God’s grace as a free gift through Christ Jesus. As a New Creation, you will suspiciously start fulfilling the Law over time. Instead of forcing yourself to do noble acts, you will starting being a noble person. A son instead of a slave. A king instead of hired hand.
I didn’t pray 10 hours a day, tithe 20% of my money, preach the Gospel when I can, and lead upright lives in order to be healed. When my healing started, I did the opposite of those things. I didn’t want to pray. I had no money to give. Instead of preaching the Gospel, I would voice out my frustrations in dissonance about God. I stopped attending church, and became hedonistic.
But I did ONE thing right.
I called out to Jesus to save me.
I was healed when I didn’t deserve it, and that makes me want to do things for God.
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2 thoughts on “Don’t be afraid to do the beautiful New, as New Things do.”
Ken, when I read Mark 2:22, I thought about your past skin condition and I believe that today you are literally a new wine-skin. I know it’s a play on words but your skin is new and you are holding/containing a presence within you that is now being poured out and will never run dry. Keep writing and speaking. You’re the man!
Michael, I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the insight, as well as the continued encouragement! Thanks for having a heart that shares and eyes that see, bro.