“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.”
The old year – 2017 – has come and gone, and we’ve embarked on a brand new journey into 2018, a new year. I usually ask the Lord to give me a scripture for the New Year, and to unfold this Word to me as the year progresses. At the end of 2017, the Lord reminded me of Isaiah 43:19, ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ It sounded like a very obvious word for a new year, but, as I meditated on it, the Lord spoke to me about the old and the new.
People are generally comfortable with the ‘old’. Even though a lovely, new pair of shoes is exciting to buy, it may take time to stretch a little in order to fit exactly right, whereas an old pair of shoes may be comfortable and familiar. An old and trusted recipe is often the one we turn to when a special meal needs to be prepared for guests, whereas experimenting with a brand new recipe may feel risky, as we’re not so certain of its outcome. Isaiah 43:18 says to ‘forget the former things; do not dwell on the past’. And yet, in Jeremiah 6:16, we read, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls’. There definitely is value in both the old and the new.
Past experiences are part of our foundations, and part of lessons we learned, knowledge we gained and memories we made. Every year we grow and change and adapt in order to move forward. Although some of these processes may have been painful, it builds resilience and character and strengthens our faith. If we walk in step with the Holy Spirit, the Lord orders our steps, and we benefit from every experience along the way, because He makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
The difficulty arises when our focus remains fixed on the past – on the old ways – and, rather than a tool to help us step up, it may become a trap to contain us. Some old and ancient ways are foundational and unchangeable. For example, God’s truth stands. God’s character is unchangeable and certain. His Word says, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Hebrews 13:8). God never changes, but He’s always on the move, busy with the new thing.
In 2018 we’ll all be faced with the new thing in some way or the other, and, like an exciting, new pair of shoes, it may take a little walking in order for it to begin to fit more comfortably. But, when we remember that we never walk through new territory on our own, and that the Lord will never allow us to be tested beyond what He knows we’re able to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13), we’ll be able to allow the old to be a stepping stone, step up with confidence, face forward, and see the new thing God has in store for 2018.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You never leave or forsake me. Thank You that I can walk confidently into this year, knowing that the ‘new thing’ You have for me is part of Your good plan for my life. Thank You that I’m safe within Your hands of love and grace, in Jesus’ name, Amen.