“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
What is it about the past that can hold so much sway for us? Sometimes we see the past with such rose-colored glasses that everything—even the bad things—seem so much nicer, easier, more desirable than what we have now. Whatever we had then, whoever we were with then, however we lived then can sometimes seem so much better than the best of now. We love to romanticize past events.
And other times, it’s quite the opposite. Other times what we remember is just the pain. Someone forgot, even though it was so important to us and they expressed interest. Another promised and never came through. We were mistreated, hurt, talked about, let down. We failed, lied, wounded others. We embarrassed ourselves, how could others not remember it just as vividly as we do?
For good or bad, we are skilled craftsmen at taking the past and bending it, highlighting it to better see ourselves and others as heroes or villains. It all depends on the day.
But the Father calls us to new things. To today. To present-ness.
Sometimes I think we tend to run back tot the past because, as God describes here in Isaiah 43, the present feels like a “wilderness”, a “wasteland” of sorts. We can look at the past and we know how events went. There is a sense of control that comes with looking back. We can embrace things as they happened or imagine how they could have gone differently, but either way we know how that chapter of the story ends. So it feels safe. It feels known.
The problem with the present is that it’s so momentary. There is far more past and far more future than there is present. So there is less for us to try to control. Less change for us to affect. If we live in the present, if we embrace the new things God is doing we must trust more; we must live by faith more.
“See I am doing a new thing!”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
It’s the call to stop being defined by our past. It’s a call to stop “if only” and “what might have been” living. It’s a call to stop regretful living. Following Jesus is about having a clean slate, a new start…every morning.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
The fact is that the “good old days” just weren’t that good. They were fine when the day they were a part of was called today. They were a gift then. But they were not so good that they should be where we live now. They are not God’s today for us…or they wouldn’t be the past. They would be the now.
Today is new, and we are new, and the possibilities, the plans and the experiences are all new. They are God’s gift to us. They are today.
Today God is doing a new thing. May we have the grace and courage necessary to perceive it.