This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “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. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards— Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sunbaked 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, 18-19 MSG)
Today's message will be simple - it is time for us to take a firm stand and completely stop going over old history in our lives. So many of us spend countless hours rehearsing past failures, short-comings that have long been forgiven by God, and likely forgiven by many around us who either were a part of that failure in our character, or observed us going through it. The issues of the past are just that - they are the past. We cannot recreate the past anymore than we can blink our eyes and create a Corvette out of the void in front of us. Why do we try? Why do we feel the need to go over and over again the things that have already been dealt with under the grace of Christ? I think our pride has been dealt a blow by our failure and we have a hard time letting go of the things that affect our pride so deeply. Recall for a moment what scripture says about pride - it goes before our fall. If we continue to allow pride to rehearse our past, we will continually be setting ourselves up for future falls!
The key to letting go and taking a stand to no longer rehearse our past - be present in the moment. God is present in the moment - he isn't back there in the mess of our past. He is right here in the moment of today, but we have to acknowledge his presence and keep our pride from turning us back. I don't know about you, but my pride gets me to do a whole lot of things I later regret. Pride isn't going to let us off the hook that easy - we need God's help to deal with our pride. This is why he sent the Holy Spirit into the world - to help us where we most need his help. God's instructions are clear - forget about what's happened, don't keep going over old history. Instead, be alert and be present - pay attention to the presence of the Spirit of God within you, not that gnawing accusation of your wounded pride. God's promise to those who will be alert and be present with him - he is going to do something brand new within us!
As we start a new year with Jesus, can we take a moment or two to just pause and consider where our pride is keeping us focused on things already fully dealt with under the blood of Christ. Things we have already confessed, but where our pride keeps reminding us of our failures. Notice - we have already confessed those things. We have sought God's grace and he has extended it. Grace isn't earned - it is given as soon as we acknowledge our need for it. That is the basis of confession - laying down our failure, picking up grace, and then allowing grace to cover us fully until there is no sign of the failure any longer. Perhaps you haven't sought grace for that failure yet - it isn't too late. You can begin this year with a totally 'clean slate' - laying down those sins of the past and walking into the newness of grace.
Pride will seek to keep you 'laser-focused' on how badly you screwed up in your choices. Grace will point you toward new choices. Pride will putting niggling thoughts into your mind that keep you rehearsing the 'severity' and the 'frequency' of your failure. Grace will put new thoughts in your mind of how you can find new paths away from those failures. It all begins with confession - what is confessed is laid down, not to be picked up again. When God reminds us of the need to 'be present', he is reminding us that we have this tendency to always look back - to 'figure out' why we failed. His truth will come to us not in the rehearsal of the past, but in the moments we spend with him in the present. There is nothing liberating about rehearsing the past, but there certainly is new liberty in staying current in the present. Just sayin!