When new wine is poured into new wineskins, the new wine ferments and expands, and in doing so, stretches and grows the vessel. A true wineskin vessel reaches a point where it is completely stretched out and no longer able to receive new wine.
Our hearts and wineskins can be very similar vessels.
There are times, seasons, and even years in the spiritual life when it can be easy to think, Eh, I've done it all. I’ve said every prayer; I’ve been to Mass thousands of times; I don’t think I’ll ever find or experience anything “new." The spiritual life may feel like rote tasks to complete or a burdensome chore. With this mindset, our hearts are analogous to old wineskins. They are too hardened, too complacent, or too jaded to receive anything new that God wants to pour out.
New wineskins, on the other hand, are pliable—and more importantly, they have the capacity to be stretched and grown. It’s easier to allow our hearts to become like old wineskins because there’s no room for God to stretch us, to shape us—and being stretched is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes painful. It’s always more convenient not to be stretched.
But God desires that we grow. God wants to do a new thing—and in order for Him to be able to do new things, we have to be willing to be stretched. His desire is that our hearts would perpetually be like new wineskins—ready to receive the newness He wants to bestow on us each day in our journey with Him. He wants to open our hearts to new forms of prayer, to new ways of experiencing His love, to new movements of His grace, to fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit alive and at work in our lives.
Jesus always has new wine to give. Jesus is always willing to do new things in us and through us. But He can’t pour in the new wine unless our hearts are pliable and soft—unless they have the capacity to be stretched and grown—unless we pray to Him each day, Lord, stretch me. Soften my heart. I give you permission to do a new thing in my heart and life.
Take a moment for a heart check. Is it soft and pliable? What's stopping it from being so? Take that before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration this week.
Emily Wilson-Hussem planned her whole life to become a sports reporter but turned out to be a Catholic musician and speaker at the hand of God. She lives out of her suitcase and travels across the world speaking to people of all ages. The heart of her ministry is offering encouragement to teen girls in search of their true identity, and she loves every second of it. She is the author of I Choose the Sky. You can find out more about her here.