Isaiah 43:18-19 “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.”
This passage is the inspiration for Don Moen’s song, God Will Make a Way. It is one of my wife’s favorites, and it has been a real comfort and encouragement to us, especially in recent months. What God expresses here is of great importance. Many people are mired in their own past, unable to believe that they or their circumstances could ever be different. God is saying that’s not the case. Much of the New Testament is on exactly this theme. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said things like, “You have heard… but I say.” (Matthew 5:21-22 etc.) It’s true that human nature has been the same from the dawn of time, which is probably the origin of the expression, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It is also true that “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That last is simply about the folly of failing to learn from our mistakes. However, the message of the Bible, the message of redemption, is that we aren’t condemned to stay in the rut that has defined us in the past. As Paul said so clearly, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Paul wasn’t giving any new truth, he was simply expressing the same thing God said here through Isaiah in the context of Jesus Christ our Lord. We might not see any way forward, but God says there is always a way, because He is the Creator who spoke the universe into being.
The past year and a half has been quite a training period in learning this truth, and God’s not through yet. He has been teaching me not to despair when things look bleak, but rather to trust Him and look forward to what He is going to do in, through, and with the very circumstances that look so bad to me. I have to shake my head at myself over this, because God has brought us through this sort of thing time and time again, but I still limit my expectations of Him to what I can see humanly speaking. “A way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” seemed like totally impossible things to Isaiah’s hearers, but God was simply pointing out that He is still God, so impossible doesn’t apply to Him. I’ve got to keep remembering that myself! There are many things I would like to see happen that I have no way to make happen. I’ve got to trust God to bring about the best, whether it agrees with what I have imagined or not, and to do it on His schedule for His glory. If He chooses to use me in the process, I am to rejoice, but never for the sake of getting glory for myself.
Father, thank You for all that You have brought us through. Help me indeed not focus on what has been or how things have been, but rather look forward to what You are going to do, keeping myself available at all times, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done perfectly, right here, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!