“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. The wild beasts 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 that they might declare my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18-21)
Remember! That is what we are doing for this New Year celebration. We look back and remember. Why should we recall the past? To focus on God’s great actions in our behalf. It will help us to “know that He alone is God…and there are no others.” Today, celebrating years of God’s faithfulness, what are your memories that exalt God? As you review those memories, how do they cause people to stand in awe of your God?
For me, I remember…A college student in Japan who brought so many fellow students to church that my children were amazed. I remember ping-pong dendo and all the trips the young people took together. I remember the many baptisms. Then came the day we had a call to return to America to lead Columbia International University. God told me from his Book that I should ask the church family for guidance. I was fearful they wouldn’t agree that this was God’s call. But I remember how the church gathered around and confirmed God’s call. And how God blessed that decision in prospering his work in Columbia to send out thousands of messengers to the ends of the earth. Another memory that shines the spotlight on God. As you reflect on your past, what are your memories that bring him glory? We obey the prophet and remember to give God the credit and point out his glorious power to others. BUT then he says, “forget it!” Remember, look back, celebrate God, but then turn around and face the future. Why? Because God wants to do something altogether new, something awesome, something greater than the past. How is that possible? And what exactly does he have in mind for you?
Rivers in the desert. What are the rivers he plans for you? The “new thing?” Surely anyone with a dried up, barren experience of God can even today have rivers of God’s blessing in your desert. He wants to flood you with his Holy Spirit, so you’ll grow and flourish in your own spirit and bear a bumper crop of fruit. You’ll bear “Jesus fruit,” his character reproduced in your words and actions so the people in your life will see it and get hungry for what you have. That’s the new thing he intends for you.
How can that happen? WHY would he do such a thing? “I have formed you for myself,” he says. You belong to him, not to yourself. When you deliberately acknowledge that every day, he’s free to take over and flood out through you. And what will happen? He tells us, “…in order to declare his praise!” Why, that’s the same purpose as the “remembering,” isn’t it? And when we remember today his past blessing, then don’t keep dwelling on that but turn to look for the new thing he intends, we will surely “declare his praise” in new ways and with new power.
I don’t know what he has in mind for you, but I do know he wants to do a new thing. And he will reveal it to those who are wholly his and seeking, searching for new ways to bring him great glory. Pray and pray together until he tells you what that is and then trust him to do that new thing, to flood out from you to a dried-up, parched, dying world.