This is what the Lord says –
“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 desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
I am guilty, as I’m sure you are, of remembering the former things instead of forgetting them, of dwelling on the past instead of moving forward, of not perceiving what God is doing in my life because I’m stuck on what’s already been done.
We rehearse the ways we failed and the ways we were failed by others.
Combing through our childhoods, looking for explanations – excuses – as to why we are what we wish we weren’t.
Combing through our careers, looking for choices we made that led us to the jobs we wish we didn’t have.
Combing through our marriages, looking for moments that brought us to the places we wish we weren’t.
Combing through our broken relationships, looking for reasons we aren’t as close as we wish we were.
Other times we run to the former things because we’re certain they were better than where we are now.
We replay those handful of good memories made perfect by the passage of time, wishing we could rewind to relive those days we’re certain were our best.
All of this dwelling on the past, whether we’re loathing it or glorifying it? It’s no good.
Because when we look back – with our eyes and with our hearts – we can’t see what’s happening now. We can’t perceive the new thing – the good thing – the Lord is doing right under our noses when they’re pointed toward the past.
The Lord – He’s always doing a new thing for us – in us. He’s always making a way in the desert, streams in the wasteland.
He is continually renewing and redeeming all that we thought was barren and parched (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Do we perceive it?
Are we paying attention to the now?
The new things God is doing in each of our lives – they spring up like Jacks in boxes. And like children surprised something so delightful comes out of something so plain, God wants us to laugh in astonishment as He raises new things from our nothings.
Don’t miss it.
Spread your smile wide and your eyes even wider and delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4).
He is doing a new thing. For me. For you.
This sounds more like obsessing over things of the past which isn’t good. Normal reflection can be a good thing as it can show you just how far God has brought you.
I think you’re right, Lynn. God definitely encourages us to remember all He has done on a regular basis. He even recounts for Israel what He’s done in the previous two verses! How interesting, then, that He is telling Israel to forget the past here. It would follow that some things are worth remembering (God’s triumphs) and some things aren’t (our failures).
And just to make it a little more complicated, we can remember our failures in light of God’s triumphing in them and still come out okay, which I think is what you were getting at. It’s when we wallow in the failure part that we get ourselves in trouble emotionally and spiritually.
Thanks for the comment!