(An article from “Words of Faith, Hope, and Love,” April 7, 2019)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 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. Isaiah 43:18-19
Our God is a God of new beginnings and likes doing new things; it is all over creation! He designed our bodies always to produce new cells, new hair; we are always experiencing new days, years, and seasons. We have a new life in Christ, with new opportunities and new challenges. And one of His last promises in the Bible is Him making all things new. (Revelation 21:5).
As God created us in His image, we have a liking for new things as well. We are always producing and buying new stuff and seeking new experiences and sensations. The funny thing, though, is that whenever God begins doing new things in our lives, we firmly resist it. That’s the one occasion when we rather stick to the old.
I admit being guilty of that because, like most, I don’t like change. I have envisioned my life a certain way and resist anything that threatens to put it on a different path. So, when God does a new thing in my life, my first reaction is to oppose it and cling on to my old familiar ways.
For example, last year, God closed a door and refused to open it despite my many prayers. Instead of accepting it and going down the hallway into the unknown to seek for a new door He might have opened, I camped at that old door and resolutely kept banging on it. However, I have learned that it is vital to embrace the new things God is doing; to let go of past opportunities and prepare for the new things ahead.
When God is doing something new, it sometimes requires us to step into the unknown, which may feel uncomfortable, scary, and even unpleasant at first. We might be tempted to hold on to the life we know where everything is familiar. But we need to let go of the old, trust God and embrace what He is doing. Otherwise, we will miss out on all the good things God wants to do to us and through us.
Take Abraham, for instance. God did a new thing in Abraham’s life when He asked Abraham to leave his land, his family, and everything he has ever known to go to a new place. Abraham decided to trust God and abandon his old life. And through his obedience, the nation of Israel came to be, as well as the lineage of Jesus.
The apostles are another example. Peter, John, and James abandoned their former lives of fishermen to follow Jesus and become His disciples. By embracing the new thing God did, they helped built the church and led many to salvation.
Likewise, with Paul, after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he accepted his new role as an apostle to the gentiles and let go of his old life as a Pharisee. God accomplished many things through Paul’s life, and his teachings make up half of the New Testament.
However, once we have decided to trust God and step into something new, we need to get ready for challenges. That’s because when God does a new thing, it is usually accompanied by a period of testing and preparation. As we are not always prepared to accomplish the tasks He has set for us, He develops and tests until we are ready. And His training ground is in the wilderness.
Take the example of Joseph, son of Jacob. Joseph came from a family of farmers and shepherds, and he probably planned to be one too. But God told him He would do a new thing in his life, and Joseph would become a person of vital importance. But before that came to pass, Joseph went through a period of testing and preparation during thirteen years of servitude and imprisonment.
David is another example. He was the last of eight sons in his family and was entirely unimportant. But God did something new in David’s life and appointed him as the next king of Israel. However, David did not walk into his kingdom right away. First, he went through a period of testing and preparation for about fifteen years before he reigned as king.
Other people went through a period of testing and preparation like Moses, John the Baptist, and even Jesus. After Jesus was baptized, He spent forty days of testing in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry.
It is essential to not only let go and embrace what God is doing; but also to endure the testing that comes with it patiently. Otherwise, we will share a similar fate to that of the children of Israel.
God did something new when He delivered the Israelites from slavery; He uprooted them from everything they had ever known to take them to a new land. But before God brought them to the promised land, He purposely led the children of Israel through a longer path to strengthen and prepare them for the things to come. The dessert was their period of testing and preparation, but they failed it.
They didn’t let go of their old lives, but longed for the good old days and wanted to return to Egypt. They didn’t patiently endure the hardships of the testing; instead, they complained and grumbled the whole time. Lastly, they did not trust God and refused to enter the promised land. Due to that, God punished them and made them wander in the wilderness for forty years.
Friend, don’t let this be your story. I didn’t want it to be mine, but in the past, I behaved like the Israelites. But I am learning to trust God and to follow Him even if it is in the unknown beyond my comfort zone. I am trying to let go of my plans and step into His because God’s plans are exceedingly and abundantly better than anything anyone can ever imagine.
If you feel God doing a new thing, don’t resist it like the children of Israel, but embrace it! Let go of the former things and endure the testing and preparation that will inevitably follow. If we trust Him, He will lead us to higher places and accomplish beautiful and marvelous things through us.