At bible study the other morning, we were all discussing the chapter of the week and what we had learned from it. I noticed a short sentence I had underlined the night before that I didn’t actually recall reading. It simply said “Sometimes God is doing a new thing in a new way.” Basic, right? Except as I reread that line, the Lord whispered to my heart, “But you want Me to do a new thing in the same old ways.” Dangit. I hate it when He’s right.
Husband and I have been in a rough season in business these past few months. Nothing really major that we could pinpoint as the problem, but it just seemed that all of our “business as usual” ways weren’t producing the same results as before. We both felt like God was doing a new thing in our lives in general, but I realized that my frustration was coming from looking for Him in the same old places. I wanted Him to surprise me in some very predictable ways. It sounds even dumber as I type it. Why would the God of infinite creativity ever chose to do things the same? Don’t get me wrong; our God is consistent. But He is consistently doing new things in new ways.
Isaiah 43:18-19 has always been one of my favorite verses because I sense it encompasses the character of God so well.
“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.”
Even in the most barren desert places, our lives are not a lost cause. There is no person, place or situation too far gone for His hand to reach. The Lord doesn’t dwell on our past because our past is…well, the past. He has already covered it with the blood of Jesus. There is nothing that can be done about the past. The only times that the Lord talks about the past in the bible is either to remind the Israelites of His faithfulness or to warn them what their choices had cost them. He is always looking to their future. He doesn’t speak to our past because “it is finished.”
But our present and our future hold endless possibilities. The present is space for the Lord to do a new thing. Why does He want to do a new thing in us? Because it brings us more revelation of who He is. That really is the whole point: deeper relationship with our Creator. Remember when you started dating your spouse and every date was an opportunity to learn something new and exciting about them? It’s the same when we do life with Jesus. Every obstacle we face is just another opportunity to learn more about our Heavenly Father. More of His character and care for us becomes clearer in the desert. He is our provider. He is our healer. He is our comforter. He is the Great I Am. He just doesn’t always provide, heal or comfort in the same way that He did last time.
And let’s face it. New things aren’t always fun. New can feel scary and awkward and weird. I think that’s why it usually takes us a while to catch on to the new thing He is doing. I have to quit running from scary and awkward and weird long enough to notice that something fresh and new is going on. I have to quit looking back at the past to realize that my present is the place I will find Him working on my behalf. It also means I have to give up expectations of Him, which feels a lot like giving up control. And giving up control never feels like the funnest thing to do.
There is a line from a Caedmon’s Call song that says “you’re only free when you have no choice.” When it comes to the new thing God wants to do in us, we rarely get a choice in the matter. But it also means we are free from any limitations we would put on ourselves or God. Freedom means we give Him the space to do His best work in us and thru us and find Him in the most unexpected places.