Every year I pick a verse to be the theme of my year. It is something I pray about asking God to show me what He wants the year to be all about. This year He laid on my heart Isaiah 43:18-19.
"Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it SPRINGS UP; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
If we go back and look at the context of this verse we see that God is reminding the Israelites of everything He has done for them. He brought them out of Egypt, parted the seas for them to walk through, and lead them through the desert. He made a way where there was no way like He promised. When we get to the beginning of verse 18 we see that God tells them to forget the former things. Why? Because God was going to do even greater things for them. Because God loved them too much do leave them where they were at, and God loves us too much to leave us where we are at. Not only was God going to do even greater things for them, but He didn’t want them getting discouraged or distracted by the past. BUT the Israelites turned away from God, and they never made it to the land that God had promised them. When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites became impatient and turned to the worship of idols. They waited for Moses to come down, but they were to impatient to stay true God. Because of this they spent the rest of their lives circling the desert and even passing by the promise land but never being able to perceive and see it. They were so focused on the rest and missed out on God’s best. Sometimes we get caught up in the desert like the Israelites, going round and round in the same place when God is telling us, “Son, Daughter fix your eyes on me.” Because with God there is always something new around the corner. "God is the same today, yesterday, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) but He is a surprise to us. He is constantly revealing to us new things about Himself through our life with Him because God isn’t fully known and won't be fully known until the Son comes back and reunites us with Him in the Promise Land, Heaven, our ultimate surprise.
Until then, there will be hardships and decisions to make all the time. I have learned in my short 19 years of life that the key to making it through hardships and making the right decisions is being patient. And oh is that the hardest thing ever. I mean the Israelites obviously struggled with it. If the Israelites would have patiently waited for Moises to come down from Mount Sinai they would have made it to the Promised Land. See, there’s a difference between waiting and patiently waiting. The Israelites waited. They didn’t leave the spot where Moses left them, BUT they weren’t patient. To be patient means to stay on the course where God has placed you on and to not deter from it until God takes you to what is next. Being patient is keeping our gaze on him and choosing to not let our eyes wander to everything else no matter how long it takes for us to be ready for the new things He has for us up ahead and no matter how hard life with Him gets, because the truth is that life with God isn’t a short walk at the park. Life with God is a long hike up a mountain, a long journey through the desert, a long trip through the wilderness, and it is anything but easy BUT it is more than worth it.
The Israelites missed out on their promise because they lost sight of God, but it is not too late for us. It is never too late to fix our gaze on God. When our eyes, our hearts, or mind are fixed on everything else but Him is when we start to go around in circles in the deserts of insecurities, doubts, loneliness, sadness, depression, lies, self-loathing, abandonment, the list goes on and on. BUT GOD HAS SO MUCH MORE FOR US. “His plans for us are to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11. He will make a way in the wilderness. He will make rivers in the desert. He will show us that He is with us. He never leaves us. He is always right there. The problem is that we get distracted by all the noise around us and sometimes our own voice that we can’t hear Him. We get blinded by all the world has to offer and by our own desires that we can’t see Him. He always has His hand extend out to us but It’s up to us to take a hold of it. It’s up to us to choose to drink the living eternal water and allow it to flow into us and restore our heart and mind and refocus our eyes on Him.
We need to be so focused on God that the outside noise, even our own noise is just background noise, and every step we take is because the Father says, "go" and every stop we make is because the Father says, "hold on" and every dream we pursue is because the Father says, "continue on".
The season of dry deserts and empty wildernesses are hard. They can get lonely. They can seem hopeless. They can feel like an eternity, but they are essential in our spiritual growth. It is in these seasons that we actually grow. It is in these seasons that God removes the weeds of pride, selfishness, jealousy, negativity, perverseness, abandonment, impatience, everything, anything, and anyone from our hearts that is hindering us from springing forth into the new things that He has for us. And after all the weeds are removed from our hearts He will water and nurture us with His love until we too spring up, His new thing.
Hold on to Him and continue on with Him.
“…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17