There’s a song we sing at our church (and I am sure many of you sing it as well) called New Wine by Hillsong. At first hearing I was captivated and deeply moved. It has a beautiful sound and a powerful message of surrender. I get caught up when I sing it and think, “YES! That’s what I want, God!”
But is it?
This blog is intended to make us aware of the words we sing in worship and help move us from merely Sunday singers who give lip service to the Lord, to a life of real growth and power. So read on to see if you should stop singing New Wine.
In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making new wine.
Have you thought about how wine is made? It is a literal process of crushing and pressing grapes to squeeze out the juice. Sound fun? Maybe if you’re the barefoot one in a giant vat of grapes in the countryside of Italy. But the reference in this song isn’t grapes, it’s us. Do you really want to ask the Lord to press you? We want the good stuff – the metaphorical wine to flow out of us, but in order to produce wine we must go through a process that may require crushing. CRUSHING. And we sing it like it’s nothing! It’s a strong statement so we need to be sure of what we are asking.
In the soil, I now surrender. You are breaking new ground,
For something new to grow, there needs to be a surrender to the process: Death of the old, burial, breaking open, sprouting new growth, pushing up through the dirt towards the surface, blooming in the sun, being watered. All of these steps are necessary in the cycle of growth. Are you ready and willing to let the old die? Some of us may say, “YES! The old hasn’t been working very well for me, I gladly lay it down!” But others of us may get stuck there. What we’ve been doing is working just fine. Do we really want to give it up, let it die, and and endure the crushing to squeeze out something new? Well, if you believe the next phrase, then yes, you actually do.
The song goes on.
So I yield to You and to Your careful hand.
When I trust You I don’t need to understand.
If you trust that God is a loving and careful Creator, then it does become easier to surrender to the work the Lord wants to do in your life. But let’s not be fooled, it’s not that simple to surrender to something you don’t understand. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong to be leery of the idea.
So how to we get to the point of surrender? How do we agree to the process when we don’t know what’s ahead? Furthermore, how do we ask to be pressed and crushed?!
The answer for the future is often found in the past. Look back. How has the Lord touched your life? Have you been rescued? Has the powerful and loving hand of God interceded and guided you into something new and unexpected? What was your life like before God?
When I look back I can see the are moments when doors were shut, walls were built, and times when I was yanked by the hair away from the edge of the cliff. Those moments weren’t always easy, in fact they were often very painful, but with hindsight I can see the loving and powerful work of the Lord doing something greater in my life. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. It reminds me of a quote I love from Dag Hammarskjoid, “For everything that has been, thank you. For everything that will be, yes.”
If you need even more proof of the faithful and careful hand of God, go to the Word! The big-picture narrative of the Bible is the beautiful love story between God and humanity. It’s amazing to see the constant mercy, love, and grace given to us with the freedom to choose to receive it. I challenge you to read if for yourself (it’s especially interesting to read it in chronological order. You can find all kinds of reading plans on the Bible app).
When you look back and see the Lord’s work in your life, it becomes easier to open the hands that grasp for control and surrender to His leading and we are then able to sing,
Make me a vessel, make me an offering. Make me whatever you want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all you have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me.
Do you ever get frustrated when cleaning out bottles? My family puts much more than water in them and leaves them all over the place. You never know what’s growing inside! They are hard to clean because you can’t see all the way in and around the edges. So you shove a brush inside, shake the soapy water around, and rise, hoping for the best. We too are vessels, filled with the fresh, living water Jesus gives us. But because of our sin, when we go to pour out that water to others, it is often tainted – like the hidden mold or residue in the bottle.
Something powerful happens when we realize that we are vessels filled with the spirit of the living God! Through faith in Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in and works through us. What a gift!! Because of this, we are invited to do the work Jesus did – spread the good news and empower others to do the same. In fact, Jesus said we would do greater things than he did. WHAT?! HOW? Because of the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the ability to do far more than we can imagine. But there is a giant IF right here….IF we follow his leading and surrender our time, attention, gifts, and agendas to the Lord. When we offer our lives to the Lord as an offering, to be poured out, He is faithful to take what we offer and do infinitely greater things.
Scripture says that new wine can’t be put into old wineskins. Why not? This idea isn’t something familiar to our modern sensibilities. A wineskin couldn’t just be refilled when empty, it had to be replaced. New wine would expand when put into a container and an old used wineskin was already expanded to it’s limits, therefore new wine would cause it to burst.
We love to sing it loud…..
Where there is new wine there is new power
There is new freedom and the kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.
Oh, it’s so fun to ask for more! More power, more freedom, more fire! But do we really mean it? The reality of this request, the passionate cry of our hearts is, “I want to be used by you! Do something new in me, Lord!” but that requires us to exchange our old skins – our old flames, for something new.
That’s not easy! Our way, the old way of doing things, works well for us. We’re used to doing things one way and getting a pretty satisfactory result (or we wouldn’t be doing it that way). So, in order to have something new, something better, we have to sacrifice the old…even if it’s not broken. The song says, I lay down my old flames…it doesn’t say, I want you to start the fire because mine burnt out. If you are laying down your flames, that means there is already a fire.
Are you willing and ready to lay down what you have now for something new? Are you ready to be pressed so the deeper, richer stuff can come out?
One more thing. In the Bible, wine is often a sign of freedom and joy. Are you ready more of both? If you are, SING OUT! If you’re not, stop singing New Wine.