A Lesson on Forgetting the Past

“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 NIV

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

I’ve always been challenged by verses that say to forget the past and not dwell on it. I read those words and think, okay, it’s possible when all is right and insecurity or vulnerability or fear aren’t around, but when they show up? Well, then I can’t seem to escape them.

Then, then I’ve got a mind like an elephant.

This last week I had an argument with my husband. Later, after the dust and tears settled, I realized so much of what we argued about had to do with me defending myself against my past.

I feel like you’re accusing me. I was always the one who was blamed.

You don’t think I do a good enough job. So often I was called worthless.

I think you’re disappointed in me. I could never measure up.

Old responses, past baggage and self-imposed labels pushed their way forward like an overbearing house guest banging on the front door.

And you think, Ugh, after all these years I’m not very different after all. I’m still the same damaged kid I was way back then.

But you’re not, and that’s where verses like Isaiah 43:18-19 hold such hope.

The Israelites are captives in Babylon. Held in bondage to a foreign king in a foreign land. They’ve been in this situation before when Egypt was their keeper.

But God freed them from Egypt. He protected them, provided for them, gave them a new land, a new vision, a new purpose, and a new way to live. They traveled long with their Lord. They were a changed people.

Now they’re trapped within the borders of Babylon and they feel like not much has really changed after all. They’re the same damaged people of old with little hope or expectation that God will rescue them like he did once before.

And like the Israelites, God, has given you your own Exodus. Over time, he’s parted seas to freedom and has brought you out of your own Egypt. He has set your feet on rocks and given you firm places to stand. (Psalm 40:2)

And yes, you too, have traveled far with the Lord, but the memories and effects of past slavery, bondage or oppression still show up threatening to hold you captive in a present-day Babylon.

And you wonder if God will rise again on your behalf. Will he come with fire and save you like he did once before?

No, he won’t.

He will do a new thing. He will save you in completely new ways. He will lift you to heights you do not know, and create fresh, flowing spaces from dry, bitter ground.

Yes, remember what he has done to the point that you know he is Lord, but put your expectation in the fact that he works in new ways, doing new things for his people.

In other words …

Believe what he’s done in the past, but know it will be outdone in the present.

Do you not perceive it?

The Latin definition of perceive comes from the word percipere which means to thoroughly grasp, take possession of, or seize entirely. To perceive means so much more than just seeing or thinking.

Are you willing to go beyond mere sight or thought? To seize entirely, God’s ability to outdo what he’s already done for you?

Will you thoroughly grasp God’s promise to spring up a new thing in you?

Look out! With God, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

6 Replies

  1. Angie Rose

    Such a great message! So grateful for you!❤️

    1. Raye Wortel

      Ditto Angie! Thank you.

  2. Gloria Morris

    Magnificent!!!!!!! Praising God with you!

    1. Raye Wortel

      Thanks so much Gloria! So glad you like it.

  3. Devery

    Perfect word for me, given the loss of my Dad, this past Thursday. So much emotion, so many mistakes, and everyone’s past brought up like it is present. Thoughts that this will never be over for anybody, and this time, it won’t be fixed! This post reminds me that we serve an awesome God who can, and does, deliver. Thanks, Raye. My Dad’s name was Ray, too.

    1. Raye Wortel

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, Devery. Yes we do indeed serve an awesome God! Peace and love to you, my friend.

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