“Behold, I am making all things new.”
I’ve only been a teacher in a low-income school for four years, but sometimes it can feel like too long, I’ve started the school year with no supplies, no curriculum, and no principal. I’ve walked into my classroom to discover it had been trashed by “construction crews” the night before. I’ve sent thirsty children to get water, only to discover that the fountains don’t work and the water from the classroom sink runs yellow. I’ve taught over 30 students by myself at one time, watched children with learning disabilities sit in classrooms for years without receiving help, given paperwork for parents to sign that makes them believe their child is getting extra support when no such thing is happening, and seen countless children pushed onto the next grade when they don’t even know how to write their name.
I’ve spent nights weeping after laboring to the point of insanity to do everything in my capacity that I could possibly do, and it still wasn’t enough. It never is enough.
And then I read the words of Jesus in Revelation, “Behold I am making all things new,” and it hurts. It hurts because it is easier for me to believe in the brokenness of our systems than it is for me to believe in the power of God to protect our children from the evil at work in this world. It is easier for me to believe that the world is corrupt than to believe it is being renewed. It is easier for me to see the tears of a six-year-old child because they cannot pass a standardized test, than it is for me to see the fullness of who they are, a fullness that even the worst systems in the world could never take away.
It is sometimes easier to despair than to hope. But the words of Jesus in Revelation push me to hope. They force me to come to grips with a world that is broken, yes, but with a world that is also in process. A world that isn’t finished yet.
When I was a child, I took an art class where the teacher had us intentionally smash a series of glass plates so that we could take the broken pieces and reassemble them into mosaic art. The end product was a beautiful mosaic platter that (last I checked) my mother still enjoys in her dining room. But lest you think it was easy, the process of getting there was a frustrating mess. Many students never completed the assignment. A friend of mine wistfully kept her half-finished project for months without completing it. For many, it was just too difficult to envision what the shattered pieces could become.
The world is much the same, except the finished product doesn’t depend on us. We were the ones who broke the world, yes — but God is the one recreating it, and the process is frustrating, and the pain that we see is heart-wrenching, and sometimes I am discouraged enough to lose vision of what we will become. Of what we are becoming.
“Behold, I am making all things new.”
When I read the words of Jesus here, I don’t imagine some future utopia where Jesus returns and everything is suddenly perfect. An ethereal utopia located somewhere in the distant future doesn’t mean a whole lot when children are suffering now.
So no, that’s not what I think Jesus is talking about. Instead, when I read those words, I see a present tense savior located in the now of our broken world. I see a current reality where Jesus is working even in the awful things our children suffer, a reality where Jesus is making even those things good, fitting even those pieces into a final mosaic that is beautiful to behold. This mess of a world, shattered by the hands of humanity, is being recreated by the hands of God.
Jesus’ words challenge my faith to believe not in the future but in the present circumstances of my life, of my students’ lives, of my school and my community. I am challenged to believe what all Christians are supposed to believe: that nothing is too broken that our savior can’t fix, no system so evil that he cannot change it, no child so hurt that they cannot be healed.
All that we have are broken pieces, and the final mosaic is difficult to see, but let us not lose hope. Behold, he is making all things new.