Isaiah chapter 43 was the focus for my Awake and Alive small group a couple weeks ago, and I really appreciated the time we spent with the encouragements from God's word. Of the ones that jumped out to me, the most interesting was the verse that I selected for this months' blog. Here it is in a bit more context:
18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
19 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.
20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
As I sat with this Bible passage a few things really jumped for me:
* "do not dwell on the past". God is always thinking about our unending future. What is in my past is often a piece of shame (something I regretted) or often something I have cherished (and may have made an idol).
* How many "new" things is God doing for us right now? Giving us Sabbath rest. Giving us our Families back. Giving us what we NEED, while limiting significantly what we WANT. He's giving us HIMSELF back, because I've tried to replace him with so many other things. How long have we prayed for peace, less anxiety, meaningful relationship instead of social media driven jealousy? In about 3 weeks, a whole lot of us are going to really need a haircut. Seeing our true colors and showing roots and unkempt hair may give us a glimpse of the more beautiful people GOD can make us if we weren't so busy being Instagram ready.
* The birds have been completely untouched by this. They continue to sing their honor of God. They have what they need. They don't think about tomorrow. They have only today and they seem to know it. When the sun comes up, they sing. It is their purpose and joy to do so. If nature does that, because God provides needs, how much greater might my song of praise be?
* God formed me for himself. Let that sit on you for a moment. God. Made you. So that he could enjoy you. And he does that most completely when you and I rest in him. When we say thank you. When we bring him our honesty. When we share our hurts. When we share our laughter. You and I are not alone. A song of Praise to God is a great way to remind yourself that God almighty walks this same road with you and me!
And then it hits me. God asks me point blank... DO YOU GET IT??? Do you SEE it? I am doing something new, and it is primarily for MY people, the ones who, by faith can sing my praise. Of all the Covid19 stuff that is happening, if there is one group that God may be moving heaven and earth for, it's that his church would rediscover its uniqueness and it's Gospel understanding in the world. It is what makes us different, set apart. God has done a work in us. He has given us life instead of death. Hope instead of Fear. Mercy instead of Retribution. Grace instead of Justice.
Is it possible that God is allowing this so that his people might turn to him in Repentance? Be assured of Forgiveness? Rediscover our Identity in Christ? And learn again how to Sabbath Rest? Stronger Families? Greater Neighborhood Empathy? Family Worship? and Gospel Outreach to our neighbors who do not have this hope... yet? Lord move among us this Easter season! I want to be still enough to PERCEIVE it!!