If you're anything like me, you've never heard of a wineskin before reading the Bible. And, if you're even more like me, you have to Google "wineskin" and find the above image before you can picture what one looks like. The significance of wineskins in Scripture (old or new) was lost on me until I was 23 years old, though I was baptized Catholic as a baby and raised in the Faith my entire life. However, it seems like the Lord has been trying to drive the point of becoming a "new wineskin" home with me lately, and I think He'd like me to share why with you.
I've never been patient. I relate on a deep spiritual plane to the character Meg in Madeleine L'Engle's classic tale, A Wrinkle in Time. Without spoiling anything (and honestly without looking up the exact quote), Meg is a young girl who is told at one point by a mentor that, if she wants to help her father, she must be patient. Without missing a beat, Meg stomps her foot and exclaims, "But I'm NOT patient! I've never been patient!" But at least she's honest.
I have hoped and prayed countless times for God to act in my life overnight: to just tell me if I'm supposed to go to X college, if I'm supposed to be a nun, if I'm supposed to get a certain job, etc. Why? Because I don't want to wait. I don't want to struggle. And I don't want to make a decision myself in case I end up regretting it. If I can tell people, "God told me to," then I can put the blame on Him. However, what this wonky way of thinking ultimately comes down to is: 1) I am ungrateful to God for the free will that He has given me, and 2) I don't trust the Lord to bring good out of whatever I choose.
So, I pray some more: this time, for God to make me a better human.
Lord, make me patient...now.
I give my life to You...now...so that we can get it moving.
I surrender everything to You...now, so tell me what to do.
Poor God. My prayers can be so pathetic. But, I have hope that He still appreciates that I'm honest, and that - like Meg - I'll be kept waiting only because it is for my good and the good of those around me. After all, as St. Paul reminds the Romans, God works all things for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (8:28). I may not always know His purpose until long after, but while I stamp my foot and twiddle my thumbs, I can trust that at least He knows what He's doing.
Which brings me to the wineskin.
A wineskin (if you can't guess) stores wine. However, if a wineskin is not taken care of properly, it can get tarnished more quickly and begin to tear. If this occurs, the result is obvious: it will no longer hold wine. It will be good-for-nothing. And it will be thrown away and replaced. Jesus doesn't want this to happen to us. He doesn't want it to happen to me, and He certainly doesn't want it to happen to you. Yet, at least for me, I know it has. I've been impatient and have worn myself so thin at times that I could no longer carry out the mission entrusted to me. Even in those moments, though - when I had become good-for-nothing in my eyes - Jesus saw the potential in me. He never loses sight of it and never will, because He put it there.
Even when I had become good-for-nothing in my eyes, Jesus saw the potential in me. He never loses sight of it and never will, because He put it there.
I wrote this poem a few months ago after reflecting on these things, and today I was inspired to share it with you. I hope it encourages you to continue fighting the good fight, even when you feel the most feeble, helpless, and hopeless. As my favorite Bible verse attests, "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:14 RSV). My prayer for you today is that you will not only allow the Lord to fight for you but that you will also allow Him to make a new wineskin out of you.
Here's to hoping, friends.
"New Wineskin" October 31, 2021 Jesus, take all of me Make me more like You Release the knots within me Each old wound, undo Heal the hurt within me But don't just take away the pain Release the wine within me To make me new again Purge me as with hyssop Make me white as snow Wherever You will lead me Jesus, bid me go Remove the hurt within me Rid me of my guilt Replace it with Your mercy My soul ne'er again to wilt Cease all my restless longings Forgive each wandering night Bathe my bloodied knuckles Help me give up the fight For this war that wages in me Began a battle long ago The prize being the salvation Of my immortal, wayward soul Though I was clothed in God's own armor And stationed at His right hand I made the mistake of believing That by my strength I could stand I fell hard fairly quickly And was pierced by my own sword Pride had welled up in me And would have been a mortal wound Had Christ not come to save me Riding in - well - just in time For all I could see was darkness Until He shone forth His light He looked not as I expected No white knight on noble steed Nor was He clad in armor From His head down to His feet He was wearing a white garment Without a single spot or stain Looking down, I realized Suddenly I was in the same The only difference being My garment was quite torn Revealing many scars and bruises In short, it looked quite worn Ashamed to be seen in such a state I quickly turned away Christ Himself had come for me But what was there to say? An endless stream of insults Had arisen in my mind I was content to condemn myself How could He not reply in kind? "Beloved," my Bridegroom whispered, "It is never too late to start again. "You can do all things through Me. "With My help, you can win."