This afternoon, we decided to leave the comforts of home behind and hit the great outdoors for some much-needed fresh air and, let me tell you, fresh it most certainly was!! At one point, our eldest informed us that she had frostbite in her feet – don’t laugh, I’m hoping she’ll dedicate that first Oscar to me ;o) But, coldness and grumbles aside, it was beautiful and pretty breath-taking at the same time. There’s nothing quite like a forest park with a river racing through it to make you take a moment and think about the awe and wonder of creation and the detail in each and every tiny part of it.
After we got home this evening and were sufficiently thawed out ( I can confirm no frostbite was detected – and yes, my Holby and Casualty viewing have qualified me sufficiently for making this diagnosis!) – we were chatting about changes for the new year and one of the girls shared how she had made three resolutions (the third of which was to keep the first two – I like her style!) but, that on re-reading them, she realised she had in fact written ‘revolutions’. We had a bit of a laugh at this, but , on thinking about this, I told her that I reckoned, in a way, the two were in fact quite similar – resolutions are all about doing something new or differently and revolutions are all about change. At this point she decided to challenge my definition (tell me you too reckon that your kids know way more than you) asking, did a ‘revolution’ not have more ‘Grrrrrrrrrrr’? There was no arguing with this interpretation- though there are some things I don’t think you’ll ever find in a dictionary! I reckon that’s probably not a bad way to tackle resolutions either, though – with a bit more ‘Grrrrrr’.
This got me thinking about how we approach new starts, something there’s a lot of talk about at the minute – nothing like January to trigger lots of ‘new’ talk – and it brought to mind a verse from Isaiah 43 verse 19 where we read, ‘See, I am doing a new thing’. But that was not the only message Isaiah had for the people, he also told them, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past.’ I think too much about things (something you may find hard to believe, knowing that I walked into the kitchen yesterday evening to dry the dishes, only to discover that I already had… ) but, I am a serial over-thinker and, while I think (there it goes again) there are certainly times when it is good to reflect and consider things that have happened, during the past year I have been reminded of just how powerful the mind is and how, if we let it run its own course, without pulling it into check, we can allow ourselves to lose focus on reality and, in some cases, cause upset for ourselves that need never even have existed. I think the same can probably be said for thoughts about the past. I don’t in any way believe that we should wipe away all memories, not at all, they are some of the most precious things we can possess, but, I do believe that we need to be careful not to let the past hold us back as we move into the future. We need to learn from our mistakes and mishaps and let them help us to make better choices in the future ( or at least try to ) but, I don’t feel it’s healthy to fixate on the past to the extent that we take away enjoyment from the future.
While Isaiah reminded the people of what God had done in leading the Israelites to safety through the Red Sea, it was pointed out that there was more to come. They had been saved when the waters of the sea had parted and closed again at just the right time, but, something new and better was still to come – a new, fresh start that would offer hope and change in the midst of a dark, sinful world. These times of refreshment, these new ‘streams in the dessert’ would come when Jesus defeated death and the Holy Spirit was outpoured in a new and refreshing way.
I know it does me good to remind myself that, while God is unchanging and is always there, a God who is love and who offers love without question, yet, a God who is not finished with us. He promises to continue to do ‘a new thing’ – the ultimate sacrifice has been made, but the promise to keep working in us still stands – something this messed up, failing individual is eternally grateful for.
I recently heard a song on the radio and a couple of lines really spoke to me but, it was only when I later googled the lyrics to double-check them, that I realised that I had in fact misheard them. What is it they say about perception versus reality?!? For me though, my misunderstood ‘I need your grace, everyday, to meet my need’ says it all for me, a flawed human, totally dependent on ‘amazing grace’ for every single day.
As I think, admittedly with a measure of dread, of the return to routine and our whole new ‘normal’, I am thankful for the promise of ‘something new’ as He continues to work in a world that needs to experience anew the refreshing power of ‘streams in the dessert’ and the promise that He’s not finished with me yet. Not only that, but the mistakes and mess ups of my past don’t have to determine my future- whether that past was last year or in the last minute.
So, as we prepare to embrace all this newness, frostbitten parts an’ all, let’s think of the power of a revolution, let’s overthrow those negative thought patterns that want to hold us back and instead, let’s resolve to move into the future with ‘Grrrrrrrrr’ knowing that the One who made that ‘Grrrrrrrrr’ is not only with us, but He’s already there ahead of us. Now there’s a thought to warm more than cold feet!😊