“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” – Isaiah 65:17
Well, the start of 2021 has sorta-kinda-maybe disrupted the planned “New” series, keeping in line with last year’s “Walking in the New”. Still it’s a new day and there’s no time like the present to start, right?
In reading Isaiah chapter 65, it struck me how difficult a task it was to tell his nation what thus said the Lord. Much of his book was about the judgment of God’s people after years of turning away from Him, of seeking other gods and fulfilling their selfish desires. I can imagine the righteous indignation and heartbreak the prophet must have felt at seeing his people choose old habits and ways that ultimately led to their being conquered and exiled to Babylon. I can image his frustration at a people being spiritually stuck when they had the Lord who could set them free. This sounds like what parents go through with children that refuse to heed advice that’s “too old”, or ignore cautions that are not applicable in the 21st century. Time and time again, Mom/Dad will say one thing (based on what they learned the hard way) and their sons or daughters do the exact opposite. It’s indeed painful to see loved ones, people we care about, choose a path that leads to an avoidable dead end.
Yes, I can imagine what Isaiah must have felt. It’s a tough assignment to deliver a hard word to hard-headed, hard-hearted people, and have it rejected. However, Isaiah also received a great word that’s the focus of today, a fantastic word of salvation and redemption, an awesome word for a new start.
It’s the latter part of the verse, “…and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind”, that we all need to embrace. If the Lord won’t bring up the old stuff we did in 2020 and years before, if our mistakes don’t enter His all-powerful mind, if He doesn’t burden us with our past, then we shouldn’t do it to ourselves, either. God loves us too much to be done with us, to leave us in the messes we make, so we should be ecstatic to know and eager to accept His redeeming gift! We have more than enough reason to jump and shout for joy that the Father of all creation chose to do a new thing for His people Israel, and also for His family (all of us who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) in spite of our bad choices and sins!
Yes, we made some costly mistakes even during a pandemic and said harsh words that could not be taken back. We wrecked relationships over politics, racial injustice, and faith. We worried far more than we trusted, and made ourselves sick in the process. But I tell you this: God is sho’ nuff a forgiving God. When we fess up to Him with sincerity, He doesn’t hold grudges. With Him, “…the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” He gives us something new to look forward to, a new chance to get it—i.e., life—right. He gives us a chance to leave the failures and disappointments behind, which allows our perspective on the present and future to shift, and enables our trust in and relationship with God to deepen and grow.
There is so much to experience and gain with the new thing God wants to do for us and His entire creation, so why not leave last year behind and chase after that new thing in 2021? Why not chase after the vision seed He planted in your mind years ago to change careers, start that business, or pursue higher education? Why not forgive those who wronged you, give them a call and allow healing to begin? Why not trust God 3000 percent in all things and at all times? He has a proven track record with those who trust Him, so we can’t go wrong!
Let’s leave all the mess behind, fam, and move forward into that new thing. Let’s take that first step together, encourage each other to take another step, and another, and another. Let’s nudge each other forward when the temptation to step back becomes a little intense. Let’s cheer each other on through the challenges and celebrate the victories (and believe me, there will be victories).
We can do this, folks. With God we can, and we will!
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for every new chance You give us to get it right, to walk in our purpose and calling. Thank You for never giving up on us despite the reasons we give You to do so. I ask that You be with us as we make this first move. Order our steps in Your word, Lord; keep us connected to You and each other as we face what 2021 brings with confidence that we will achieve all that You have set for us. With You, we can’t go wrong! I ask this in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.