Papa Needs a Brand New Bag

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
—Mark 2:22

Ahh. So that’s my problem. I always wondered why the promised new life never seemed to quite materialize for me. I’ve been trying to cram the Jesus stuff into my recycled Fred bag. Here I thought I was being religiously green and all the while I was simply recycling my carnal footprint. Go figure.

The hard part is that I really like my old bag. It’s familiar, meticulously crafted, functional, and very comfortable. Through constant use it has become flexible enough to hold just about anything. From humility to hypocrisy, purpose to plunder, sacrifice to sacrilege, faith to folly, duty to duplicity—you name it and it’s probably been in the bag. I like the old Fred bag. It works just fine.

Well, except for one thing: it leaks. Like, a lot. It’s as effective as a screen door on a submarine. No matter how carefully I pack the Jesus thing in there, no matter how gingerly I fit that new brew in between my standing inventory of social commitments and ego-centered mandates, my garden of lovingly tended secret sins and publicly pious postures, my spiritual sincerity and willful, reckless rebellion—no matter how gently I maneuver the new wine in there, it’s all in vain. The much ballyhooed new vintage splashes, a lame libation, unsampled and wholly ineffectual on the dirt. Every damn time.

Apparently, the new requires the new. It’s sort of like getting a new electronic tech device that comes with its own power cord. Ten to one the power cord from your old tech device won’t fit the new device. The new little connector is a different size or configuaration or both. Jesus gives me this new tech device, see, and I’m trying to use my old power cord to power it up but it doesn’t work. So I have this great new gadget with all kinds of features that just sits there doing nothing. It comes down to deciding which I like better, my old power cord or my new device. Apparently I can’t have my cake and iPad 2.

Jesus offers me this new spiritual wine (say, a perky Zinfandel) and I have this old wine skin bag (work with me on this). He keeps pouring but I keep leaking. Eventually you’d think he’d stop pouring, but he’s got a huge supply and isn’t trying to hoard it for himself; he really wants me to have it. So as long as I’m holding up my old bag he’s going to pour, probably because he’s waiting to see just how stupid I really am. So I demonstrate to him that I am indeed quite stupid. Eventually, the entire Trinity is gathered around and staring in disbelief (yes, God can do that if he wants) at my relentless stupidity and totally dorky loyalty to my old Fred bag. Every once in a while Jesus holds up a brand new bag to hint that I might want to shift strategies, but, for the most part, God is having a grand time watching the Fred farce. I should charge him admission. Probably should get myself a new bag one of these days.

Maybe next year.

.   .   .



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