The promise above has a special place in my heart. God has used it countless times to encourage me when I have experienced times of difficulty, disappointment, and despair. It has never failed to fill me with a fresh sense of hope whenever I read or hear it. Because of that, I often share it with people who write me for prayer and encouragement. These folks are usually looking for some glimmer of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. Many times, they are hurting over some kind of heartbreak or loss, and they can't help but "dwell on the past" - what mistakes they might have made, and what they might have done differently to cause a better outcome. And even if the Lord is trying to do something new and wonderful in their lives or circumstances, they can't "perceive it" because they can't get past their past.
I had this very same problem myself over 40 years ago, when I experienced the first heartbreak of my young life. After being in a relationship with my high school sweetheart for more than three years, the relationship ended badly, and I felt the sting of rejection and betrayal. What I didn't realize at the time was that God wanted to do "a new thing" in my life, but He couldn't do that unless I got into agreement with Him. As I look back, I marvel at the great lengths the Lord went to, in order to convince me that He had new plans for me that were better and brighter than I ever imagined.
First, he put my future husband, Joe, in the same college class with me in the Fall of 1973. And when months went by without Joe and I saying a word to each other, God had our professor put us in a skit together, so that we had to spend time with each other and work on our shared project. At the same time, the Lord arranged for Joe to buy a brand new Pontiac LeMans, knowing that my family and I always had Pontiacs, and that I wouldn't dream of saying 'no' when Joe offered to give me a ride in it. That day I rode in Joe's new car for the first time, he took me to lunch, and I told him my entire life story, even though I was usually a very private person. We had such a good time together that we both called our families and told them that we wouldn't be home for dinner that evening because we had other plans. After sharing another meal together that day, Joe declared that he was going to marry me. I laughed because it was so unexpected, but inwardly, his spontaneous expression of affection was exactly what my hurting heart needed - and the Lord knew it.
Looking back, I see now that God was working overtime to get me in agreement with His future plans for me, even where my choice of a lifemate was concerned. Truly, the similarities between us and our families were striking. Joe and I were both 100% Italian-American. All of the children in both families had first names starting with the letter "J". Both families had been buying and driving cars made by Pontiac for decades. Both of our fathers had served in the Air Force working on planes during World War II. And the list goes on and on. All of these things were God's way of trying to get me to stop dwelling on my past pain and disappointment, and to begin perceiving the new things He wanted to do in my life.
To this day, Joe and I laugh about how we sat in a classroom together for months, without knowing that our future spouse was so close at hand. And I am telling you all this today in the hope that you will be able to start believing that the "new thing" that God wants to do in YOUR life is closer than you think. Don't let how you perceive the past keep you from perceiving the bright and beautiful future that the Lord has for you. And don't think that your best days are behind you. God is still in the miracle-working business, and He loves transforming our troubles into triumphs. And right now, at this very moment, He's saying to you - "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!" (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the new and wonderful things You are longing to do in my life right now. Deliver me from the tendency to dwell on my past in ways that could hinder me from receiving the bright future You have for me. Cleanse my heart and mind of all bitterness, doubt, pain, and negativity. Show me signs that will move me to get into agreement with You and Your plans for my life. Help me to live a Christ-centered life so that I can experience the comfort, strength, and healing that only You can provide. Thank You that as I keep my hopes high, and my eyes of faith open, the "new things" You have for me will come bursting forth!
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