“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”—Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV).
Forget the past? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. In fact, I would say, it’s impossible to let go of the times we’ve been lost in the wilderness, unless we look up.
What does it mean to look up? Look up, seek God, seek His forgiveness, seek His guidance, and seek His hand. Let Him lead you from the past into His presence.
His presence washes over us like a fresh, spring rain, soothing our weary soul, reviving our spirit, and infusing us with hope. His hope, His strength, and His love can lead us from a life of despair to delighting in Him.
Delight Yourself in the Lord
In Psalm 37:4, David writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV).
Many believe, especially new Christians, that God will give us anything our hearts desire if we have enough faith. But, as we mature in our faith, we begin to understand what is important in life and to our Heavenly Father.
God wants us to “take delight in Him.” When we delight in the Lord, we begin to desire the same things He does: justice and mercy, forgiveness and obedience, love and wisdom, peace and kindness. God will give you those desires if you ask.
When You Receive Those Desires
How many times do we allow the actions of others or our own stubbornness to lead us into the wilderness of despair? Caught up in negativity and fear, we can sink into a pit—a pit so deep we can’t climb out.
But God tells us not to dwell on the past. We can’t change what was said or what we did, or what the actions and words of others did to our self-esteem. Only God can.
When we begin to understand the riches of His mercy, we can seek Him with our whole being, asking for what we need. It might be forgiveness. Or it might be justice. Maybe we need to ask Him to show us where we’ve disobeyed Him. Through this process, we gain wisdom, begin to understand His incomparable love and find peace.
Seeking Peace from the Past
Some of us clutch to the past like a crusty barnacle clinging to the bottom of a sea-going vessel. Anyone who is familiar with these sticky little crustaceans, especially boaters, knows removing these sea creatures requires elbow grease or a pressure washer.
These tenacious crustaceans stick to the undersides of vessels, to other sea life, to each other, and to pretty much anything they come in contact with through secreted fast-curing cement that is among the most powerful glues known.
When we can’t or refuse to leave our past behind, we become like those barnacles. And it takes some elbow grease, or should I say “knee grease” to leave it behind.
Is it Time to Hit Your Knees?
I’ve been there. A trusted family member hurt me with her words and actions 12 years ago. Because of her actions, I erected a wall around my heart to protect myself from further pain.
As long as I clung to that pain, the rift between us continued to grow. Each time I thought I had forgiven her, her past actions and words would remind me of her betrayal.
It wasn’t until I finally hit my knees in prayer, begging God to help me forgive her that I was able to let it go, to leave the wilderness and embrace peace. Only God could help me let it go.
God Made a Way in the Wilderness
Isaiah 43:18-19 is not only God’s timely message to the Israelites in their period of exile; it’s also a timeless message to us in our times of transition, especially from the wilderness to wholeness.
We can’t allow those “former things” to color our perceptions of the present and our expectations for the future. If we remain consumed with the past, we can’t move forward into what God has planned for us.
It requires us to continually look up, to seek His face, and to ask for what we need on our journey to wholeness. Only then can we move forward into the good He has promised His children.
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