I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do 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. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise (Isaiah 43:15-21, New Revised Standard Version).
There are some things we can’t manage to forget, even when we want to do so. I spent a good bit of my day yesterday trying to figure out how to use WordPress (for those that don’t know, WordPress is a Google-owned company that hosts this blog) again. Several things that happened during the day that kept me frustrated. When the blog post was supposed to have posted early yesterday morning, it didn’t. Truthfully, it was supposed to have posted early in the morning day before yesterday. It didn’t post then either.
I finally got it to post manually this morning only to find that before I set it aside a year ago, it always posted the most recent blog on the top of the stack and if you want to type in “revbroyles.me” it would put you with the most recent post first. Today if that is all the address you type in, it will still take you the blog, but the post you will see is from July 31st of last year!
Then I discovered that, for whatever the reason, the post was not going automatically to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. At least for Google+, there is a good reason. Google shut Google+ down six months ago. The problem with Facebook is, well, its Facebook.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It reminded me of my pet peeve with computer companies. They like to fix things that aren’t broken and leaving broken things that began that way. In my almost year away from regularly being on all things internet, I had pretty well forgotten the problem.
In today’s lesson, God says, we shouldn’t remember the things of days past and instead focus on what God is doing in the present, seeing that “new thing” Isaiah tells us God is doing. I think most people would probably agree with me. There are just some people who insist on making it difficult for us to forget “the former things.”
I don’t think God is telling Isaiah to forget everything and worry about the future. It seems clear to me that God wasn’t telling Isaiah to focus on the future at all. What God was saying was, live in the present.
This past Sunday, Cindy and I worshiped at Bethlehem United Methodist Church near Hudson, Texas, not far at all from our home in Lufkin. It is the church where Cindy has her church membership and where we will attend once I “hang up my stole, as it were.” Because we are usually in worship wherever I happen to be serving as a pastor, it is rare for us to go to Bethlehem. The current pastor at Bethlehem is Rev. Cindy Doran. In her sermon, she talked about this particular idea (as well as a few other things) that stuck with me. She pointed out that most of us spend time worrying about the past or we are bogged down in what we might see coming. She also said how interesting it was that when we spend all this time focused on the what is over our shoulder, we are worried about what can’t be changed. Even more thought-provoking, if we spend our time focused on the future, much of the time what we expected and planned for never came to be.
And we fail to live in the present moment. We are unable to tear ourselves free from the past. Many of us live opposite of such ideas too. We are so busy planning we miss the presence of God.
Instead, we need to focus on the new thing. I don’t think it so much means for us to forget the past. We learn from the past. Nor should we neglect to look forward and planning. When we fail to plan, we will likely fail to act. Instead, taking what we have learned, and with the plans we make, I would submit that we live and work in the current moment, striving to make God’s Kingdom, at that moment, as God’s Kingdom is in heaven, making disciples for the transformation of the world.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With a Thankful Heart,
Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved