"For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!" (Isaiah 43:19 NLT) Three years and five days ago, I woke up from spending a fun 4th of July with my family and some good friends to read a devotional that changed my life…our lives. My current boss, Will Davis, and his wife Susie had run into Celia and me a couple of weeks earlier, then Will left me a message promising he had a proposition that was going to "rock my world". Since I respected Will, I didn't immediately tell him I wasn't interested, but promised to pray about his idea. His idea was for Celia and I to leave my job of 19 years in sales, move to Austin and lead an effort for ACF start a new church. Crazy, crazy, crazy - but it didn't really register with me until July 5th. I read these words in Sarah Young's Jesus Calling that morning:
"Instead of striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle, seek to know Me in greater depth and breadth. I long to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must stop clinging to old ways. I am always doing something new within my beloved ones. Be on the lookout for all I have prepared for you."
Those words jumped out of the devotional book I had been reading for more than a year and they shook me. Then I read the verse in Isaiah 43. In my Bible, my NLT translation it says "for my people to come home". Home. I grew up in Austin, heard the LORD was doing something new in our historically unchurched city and in a minute on July 5, 2010, I knew the LORD was speaking to me about doing something new in my life. I knew I had an assignment from the LORD to pray and determine if He was calling me to Austin.
I've shared some or all of this story before, but here's the thing I keep learning. This new thing isn't about me. The LORD made it apparent to Celia and me that while it was about me and her, it was also about Davis and Anna. Moving cities, in high school and middle school, was a brand-new thing for them. It has been a hard thing, but a great thing for them and it has grown them. But like all of the LORD's promises, they don't stop at my door, they go out to your doors, too.
The LORD is doing a brand-new thing in Northwest Austin, in our community. He has healed marriages, drawn those who didn't know anything about Him into a relationship with Him. He is doing a brand-new thing in the lives of our youth, fresh off an incredible experience in Estes Park, committed to living for Him during the school year. The LORD is reaching out (and was before we arrived) to all kinds of kids through Young Life. In fact, 95 of them are at Frontier this week. Join me in praying for them to see the LORD do a brand-new thing in their lives, the last couple of days of camp.
He is doing a brand-new thing in Austin, Texas. Over 300 churches of all denominations are united in an exploreGod campaign (www.exploreGod.com). Our goal, to raise the spiritual conversation in Austin and let people who are curious feel free to ask and talk about God this fall. These 300 churches will be teaching the same messages over a 7-week period, so the city has a chance to hear about, explore and find the God who loves them. Billboards, website, banners are about to blanket our city. Our bigger goal is the same as Isaiah 43:19 - that the LORD will make a pathway through the wilderness for His people to come home!
The best part of the promise of a brand-new thing is watching Him create rivers in the desert. Seeing the one who struggled with depression now counseling another in the same struggle. Or one who struggled with addiction, now pointing another in the struggle to the LORD, for healing. Marriages, children, people being taken from a dark place to a place where the Light of Jesus Christ shines through them. It's water in the desert. It's a brand-new thing…and it has just begun!