Happy New Year! I cannot believe that we’re already eleven days into January 2014. Oh, how swiftly the time passes by…
Our new year’s blog post is a little late…obviously! We enjoyed some extended travel with family over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and are just now settling back into our normal routines (and time changes!) with work and ministry.
Last year, I started keeping a Blessings Jar. Colorful slips of paper capturing a brief praise, answered prayer, blessing, or thought written on them were deposited into the jar and were to remain there until after 2013 had passed. I loved the intentionality of this exercise, as it caused me to stop in the present moment and acknowledge God at work in our lives and circumstances! While there were many blessings and events that I failed to record in the jar for last year, my heart was overwhelmed this past weekend when I finally spent a few minutes reading and reflecting on each thought that had been recorded…
- Specific answered prayers for our children, extended family, friends, business and ministry.
- Blessings of safe travel, stability of my pineal brain cyst, and the arrival of our grand-angel in May.
- Moments of grace and comfort during the loss of loved ones.
- Days of joy through accomplishments both personally and professionally.
- Opportunities of gratitude for God’s divine hand in ordering impossible circumstances.
Reflecting on the year of 2013 brought with it a myriad of emotions, and rather intuitively, my mind and emotions began to cling to those experiences that were challenging or painful. Immediately, my perception of the New Year that God had blessed us with was shrouded in events from the past. Rather than embracing what new things God might desire to accomplish in and through me in 2014 with a spirit of anticipation, expectation, immovable faith and surrender, I began meditating on anxiety, doubt, fear, insecurity and worry. Why? Our human tendency is to view an unknown future through an intimately known past. We project yesterday’s disappointments, failures and heartaches onto tomorrow’s anticipated outcomes. Assumed predictability overshadows hopeful optimism. And thus, we reduce God’s unmatched abilities and unlimited resources to those of our own human capabilities and convince ourselves that based on past experience, God couldn’t possibly do a “new thing” in our life.
Or could He?
There’s much insight to glean from chapter 43 of the book of Isaiah, verses 16-19, and 21:
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth ; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (KJV)
The Message Translation paraphrases this passage beautifully:
Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.
Glory, hallelujah! I pray that your perspective on this new year is beginning to take divine shape in light of what God says…no, promises…that He will do! To fully embrace the richness of this passage, it’s necessary to chip away at the surface of numerous words to truly mine the gems buried therein. So hang with me; I am confident that at the end of our Hebrew excavation, these discoveries will leave you empowered, enthusiastic for what God has in store for you this year, and find you shouting a holy “Eureka!” in Jesus name! And if I’m wrong, I’ll pack up my bag of Bible mining tools, dust off my dirty knees, and go home!
Hebrew Words and Definitions (from KJV Translation above):
- Remember: (“Zakar”) – recall; call to mind; keep in remembrance; to mention; make a memorial; choicest; best.
- Things: (“Ri’shown”; from root words “Ri’shah” and “Ro’sh”) – summit; sum; height; to shake
- Consider: (“Biyn”) – know with the mind; observe; give heed to; distinguish; teach or instruct, regard
- Do: (“ ’asah”) – fashion; accomplish; put in order; celebrate; ordain; to be observed; to press; squeeze
- Thing: (“Chadash”) – renew; repair; make anew
- Forth: (“Tsamach”) – spring up; grow up; to grow abundantly or thickly
- Know: (“Yada”) – know by experience; be skillful in; to be made known; to be revealed; to make oneself known; to be instructed; declare
- Make: (“Suwm”) – to put; place; set; appoint; direct toward; establish; transform into; to set or make for a sign
- Way: (“Derek”; from root word “Darak”) – distance; journey; manner; path; direction; course of life; to tread (bend with the foot)
- Wilderness: (“Midbar”; from root word “Dabar”) – pasture; uninhabited land; large tracts of wilderness; promise; warn; sing; to speak
- Rivers: (“Nahar”) – underground streams; be radiant; to flow
- Desert: (“yĕshiymown”; from root word “Yasham”) – waste; desert; desolate place; to ruin
- Formed: (“Yatsar”) – form; fashion; of divine activity; to squeeze into shape; to bind; be distressed
- Forth: (“Caphar”) –to recount; declare; to talk
- Praise: (“tĕhillah”) – praise; adoration; thanksgiving to God; general or public praise; deeds or attributes of God
Whew! Now that was some digging into the Word! What we now hold in our hands are sparkling gems of truth – seemingly small nuggets of encouragement, freedom, hope, peace, purpose, and redemption that permeate the darkness of our life and illuminate it with the radiance of God. As I prayed over these words and their God-inspired intentionality and meanings, He began to write upon my heart a personalized translation of this passage…
My precious child, why have you fashioned such gloomy memorials in your mind, remembrances primarily composed of only painful and toilsome affairs? Why do you continually dwell upon, talk about, and submit yourself to the challenges, fears and trials of the past? Could it be that, contrary to your recollection, these experiences are in fact the choicest, most divine summits upon which we’ve met; heights where I have chosen to intimately fellowship with you in order to impart my discernment, instruction and understanding upon you? Is it possible that it is in these seasons of your life – when you were confused, disappointed, grieving, lonely or suffering – that I was intentionally using them as a means of confronting your enemy by going before you to prepare the way for greater blessings to come, and in anticipation of you accomplishing the good things that I’ve prepared for you to do? At the end of your life, these are the moments that will shake out with significance – moments that illustrate My character development within you; and My faithfulness, grace, kindness, love, mercy, peace, provision, redemption and victory bestowed upon you in surpassing proportion to your need. Oh child, how my heart is overwhelmed with love for you!
Look, now! Don’t miss it! A time of celebration is coming! Stop viewing the future through the lenses of hindsight; instead, look forward to Me and focus on My unlimited abilities and resources. I have been putting every moment of your life in perfect order in preparation for what I’ve ordained for you to accomplish. Though pressed down and squeezed like an olive in a press, I’ve watched you become a beautiful offering in which I take great delight! And in return for your gift – the giving of yourself – you’ll see that all along I’ve been fashioning you for something far greater than you could ever imagine: an abundant harvest where all things that have been sown in tears will be repaired and made new! Trust Me; the life you’ve lived has not been for nothing. Rather, your personal experiences of walking in relationship with Me have been purposed to sharpen your skills for discerning My hand at work in your life, and serve as my declaration and revelation of Who I have been, Who I still am, and Who I will be in the days to come. You can confidently walk in the knowledge that the course of your life has been set in place as a sign for the world to see Who I am through you. I will transform your wilderness journeys into songs of praise and promise, for you can rest assured that from the expansive wasteland encircling your Promised Land, rivers of life will miraculously spring forth from underground and flow radiantly for My glory! The soil you see as ruined is a holy stomping ground, where together we will warn the enemy of his eternal defeat as you victoriously tread over him because you, My child, have been appointed by Me, set apart for Me, and you are Mine! Beloved, I’ve been cultivating your desolate soil from the abundance and unseen overflow of My love all along!
Trust My heart. While your life has often been perceived as a sequence of meaningless circumstances and events, hold fast to the truth that I have a divine purpose in every situation. That which has caused you distress, heartache and pain has also been molding you into the very shape necessary for My renown through you in your sphere of influence as you courageously live out My calling on your life. See, I have been custom fitting you to wear My attributes in every thought, word, and deed. I have been binding you to Myself so you would willingly relinquish your self-sufficiency to daily dependence upon Me for everything.
Follow Me. Trust Me. Enjoy your journey with Me. Be fully present and immersed in the work I’m doing now, rather than distracted by the past or consumed with the unknown details about how the future will materialize. Be expectant! There are miracles awaiting you today, but they cannot be found by lingering in the shadows of your broken yesterdays.
Come with Me, child. I’m doing a new thing!
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.” – Isaiah 43:16-19; 21 (The Message)
1. What thoughts and feelings surface when you reflect upon last year…is there anxiety, fear, or regret? Are there ongoing circumstances that have overflowed into the New Year? Or imminent situations looming on the horizon? Spend time in God’s presence sharing your heart with Him. Tell Him your concerns, frustrations, and insecurities. Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; NIV). Choose not to worry about anything but instead, to pray about everything, telling God what you need and thanking Him for what He has already done. Then, claim the promise of God’s peace that far exceeds anything you can comprehend and guards your heart and mind so that you can abundantly live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-8; NLT).
2. Consider how God might be using your unique life story to impact the lives of others for His namesake. Identify what attributes of His character He might be cultivating in you through your experiences. How have you grown in Christ-likeness? Now, inventory by name whom God has divinely placed in your sphere of influence and how God may be using the overflow of Himself through you to draw them to Him. Perhaps you, and your circumstances, are the essential elements God has hand-picked to use to foster a life-changing experience in their life! You, my friend, may very well have a front-row seat for watching God’s kingdom agenda unfold in the life of someone else, simply because you’ve chosen to embrace your circumstances as an opportunity to share the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:13-17).
3. Do you believe God’s promise to use your wilderness journey as a song of praise and segue to blessings, as “an abundant harvest where all things that have been sown in tears will be repaired and made new”? What thoughts and feelings arise from entertaining that possibility? Ask God to help you look beyond your limited human perspective and consider His omniscient view of your circumstances. While it may seem that your present situation is unnoticed by God due to the sameness from day to day, take heart that even at this very moment, He may be orchestrating the people, places, and things required for bringing the next step of His plan to fruition for His glory and your blessing! Trust the heart of God. He made you, He will carry you, He will sustain you, and He will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4).
Are you ready for God to do a new thing? Often, the blessed outcome of His hand at work isn’t necessarily an external change in our circumstances, but instead in the transformation that occurs in the depths of our heart as we surrender everything to Him. Whether your “new thing” is found in relinquishing a long-term burden to God’s authority in your life, or in a courageous step forward into an unknown season of life, take time to abide in His presence and worship Him for Who He is – a loving and redeeming God Who makes all things new!
“Worth It All” by Meredith Andrews: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg7h6GiNTLg
“Lift My Life Up” by Unspoken: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5KmkdWdRQU
“Oceans” by Hillsong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLqTZ07ja7g
“Reckless” by Jeremy Camp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wThyGZXJDYo
Learn more about the ministry of One Voice Worship by visiting www.onevoiceworship.com.