“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
This beautiful text comes from “The Book of Comfort” in Isaiah (chs. 40-66), a theme of which is seeing God’s will and learning to discern His ways. In these chapters we often find the question, “do you not see?” or “do you not perceive?” The text for this week’s GraceWaves reminds us of four important truths.
First, stop reliving the past. Yes, we do need a time of reflection, contrition, repentance; and the approaching season of Lent certainly reminds us of that need. Soon, however, you must fold up the past and move forward. You cannot spend your life in an endless, mental court of appeals, reviewing past events and actions. You cannot receive God’s grace for today if your mind is full of guilt, bitterness, regret, etc. Accept as fact even the most painful chapters in your life, but then stop considering them. They do not determine your future.
Second, trust that God is doing a new thing in your life. It is in the process of springing forth even now! A Christian should live with a powerful and transforming hope for the present and future. God’s grace is limitless and so is His creativity. He simply will not leave you forlorn. In some way, today, God is doing a new thing in your life. It may be a new insight He will give you, or a reminder of a truth you have forgotten. He may bring someone into your life to help and encourage you. He may have a task for you that will be that new thing. You can live with a joyous anticipation of God’s new grace in your life today.
Third, you must exercise faith to perceive what God is doing. The fulcrum of this text is the question God asks: “do you not perceive it?” Sometimes my answer to this question is, “No. I really don’t.” But the question is a challenge for me to use faith to look behind and beyond the surface events and perceive what God is doing. Life is not a cheap novel with obvious plot lines. God works deeply around the obvious events to infuse His grace more completely into your life. Think of faith as a kind of eye enabling you to see God’s eternal principles and providence. By faith you will begin to perceive the “new thing.”
Finally, remember that the wilderness and desert are not the end points of your journey. They are the harsh realities we all face, but God will provide a way through your present wilderness. He will provide rivers in your desert times from which you can drink the water of life. God does not remove the wilderness and desert, but He does provide a way through them. An even deeper truth is that the wilderness and desert are fruitful places for real spiritual growth.
This passage should be one of your favorites because it reminds you that you do not have to keep dredging up the causes for your present desert or wilderness. It also reminds you that while grace is a multifaceted gift from God, He expects you to use that gift to learn more about the way He works. And He is working today in your life. Do you see?
Dr. Terry Ellis
February 21, 2011