When I think of Moses leading the Israelites into the wilderness, I always get this picture of a large group of people surrounded by mountains, going around and around in circles within a deep valley.
Looking for a way of escape.
That’s not quite how they had pictured their freedom. They weren’t planning to escape from one form of captivity into what they considered another.
Captive and lost is how I can often feel. Stuck in a place where I’d rather not be, lost and walking in circles, trying to find a path out of my wilderness.
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth: Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert…. Because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people. The people whom I formed for myself, will declare my praise.” Isaiah 43: 18-20 NASV
For years I felt stuck. The routine and structure that I had known so intimately up to that point was turned upside down, leaving me to form a new routine in life. For years, I wandered around in circles, in my own wilderness, trying to find a purpose that I could grasp. When I felt it would never happen, I often found myself dwelling on the past – the “what if’s” and the “why’s”. You know – the standard reactions in life to the things we cannot understand.
Told in Isaiah not to call to mind the things of the past, we are, instead, to be aware of the ‘something new’ that God is doing in our lives. Roadways are being carved. Rivers are being formed. Both the roadways and rivers promise to lead to praise and thanksgiving.
When a baby learns to walk, he doesn’t look down at his feet and watch the steps he takes or he’ll lose his balance and fall. He is focused on, his mother or father who eagerly awaits a few feet away, ready to intercept him when he makes it into their arms. The child doesn’t take his eyes off his goal, that of reaching the parent in front of him.
Remember Peter walking on the water and Jesus is waiting for him? Peter stepped out of the boat and started toward Jesus, a little ways off. It was only when he took his eyes off the Lord did he began to sink.
Goals can keep us afloat, giving us a purpose, a mission. They give us a reason to press forward. However, if we look down and if we look back, that is where we begin to sink and we can feel as if we are being held captive from our greatest potential. We focus on the sorrows, the mistakes, the hurt and the pain instead being aware of the something new He is doing now in the present.
Being aware doesn’t necessarily mean we will always recognize the ‘something new’ when God brings it into our life, but it does mean that we should be looking, watching, waiting – expecting Him to work. His promise is that the new will spring forth and in response, we will, with thanksgiving, declare praise to Him for all He has done, who He is, and what He is yet to do.