Won't you give us fresh life and let your people be glad because of you? (Psalm 85:6 CEV)

I drive by it nearly every day. The smell is especially hard to take right now since I've had to cut down on carbs. It is the smell of freshly baked bread. Yum yum! Smell but do not taste. Sometimes being good is hard work. Nothing smells quite as good to me as freshly baked bread!

Now the bread we eat that is fresh is not new — this kind of sliced white bread has been around for decades — but it can be FRESH! You can strip off the crust and then, because it is fresh, you can fold and mash the rest of it together into a yummy ball of freshly baked moist bread! If I close my eyes, I am transported back to my childhood, hiding in a closet with a flashlight, a friend, a bottle of pickles, and a loaf of fresh bread.

When we come to the New Testament, there are two words used to speak of new things. One means new as in fresh, the other means new in terms of chronology. Now I'm 51 years old, so talking about new in terms of chronology is pretty much out of the picture. However, fresh is something I can get! It's like that “new” loaf of freshly baked bread — is fresh, baby, really fresh and yummy!

Several years ago, God decided Donna and I needed a big dose of freshness. Our world had already taken a bit of cosmic hit with Megan graduating from high school and Zach graduating from college and getting married. At first, it is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that you no longer have teenagers. Whoosh! That's not the sound of them taking off for another school event, but they're now out the door for good and on their way to bigger and better things in life. So after a few months, we found that while the empty nest meant missing the kids, it also meant having a blast as a couple. Pretty sweet!

Then, God called us to leave the church and the people we so deeply loved to move to another place — a place with a very different culture, lifestyle, and pace of life. The church part was easier than we thought — God called us to precious people with a real willingness to roll up their sleeves, open their hearts, and get their hands dirty working hard to bless other folks. What I didn't realize is that God decided that we needed freshness — a new spiritual loaf of bread. We needed a new freshness to ministry, people, co-ministers, opportunities, sights, thoughts, and opportunities. I think the beloved church I left needed that, too. This doesn't mean that it was easy, it was just necessary if we were to find that new freshness for the next stage of our journey.

Change can come in many packages.
Change can come in many packages. Some is transformational. Some is awful. Some is rooted in the processes of aging. Some is forced on us based on the age of our children. Some is earth-shattering. Some is God's gift of freshness. However, this latter one is ours only if we choose to be open to the God who is at work in our lives (Philippians 2:13), who sees us as his craftsman made to do great things (Ephesians 2:10), and who works things for his glory and our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

Change — the focus of many articles this week — is the one constant, the omnipresent inevitability, to life in our world. How we choose to let God use it to shape us for his glory is our choice. Dear friend, roll down your window and take a deep breath. What you smell is a chance to enjoy the freshness that the grace of God can bring ... even in the middle of tragedy, turmoil, and tribulation ... even in joy and jubilation. The real question is if we will unwrap it, pull off the crusts, and enjoy the sweet, moist, taste of God's fresh work in our lives.

What events that have happened in your life, good and bad, has God used to bring freshness into your life and help you renew your passion to live your life for his glory? I'd love to hear from you on my blog:http://www.heartlight.org/articles/200608/20060807_fresh.html