18 Don’t remember the prior things;
don’t ponder ancient history.
19 Look! I’m doing a new thing;
now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
paths in the wilderness.
In the town where I grew up, there is a frozen custard stand that is a local institution. But if you visit, you have to understand something. When it gets really hot, a cone is a no-go. The custard is too soft and the portions are too big. I can’t remember how many kids I’ve seen insist on a cone only to have all the custard fall to the sidewalk three steps away from the window. Invariably this results in a lot of crying and very annoyed parents. Sometimes, even the promise of a new ice cream doesn’t stop the crying: “But I wanted a cone!”
We’re like that. We are so fixated on what was, but now is past, that we often can’t see the new thing that’s unfolding right in front of our eyes.
That was true for people in the time of the prophet Isaiah. Actually, what we call the book of the prophet Isaiah probably is the work of multiple prophets – from the time before Israel’s exile, to during the Exile, to after the people returned. This section likely dates to the time of the Exile. The “new thing” that God is doing here is raising up the Persian Empire, which would eventually overthrow Babylon and create an opportunity for the exiles to return home. The “way in the wilderness” is a reminder to the people that God has done this before – remember Egypt?
The point is that we can stay upset about what was and no longer is, or we can embrace the possibility of what is and what could be.
God’s doing a new thing. Will you recognize it?
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
This passage suggests that in the face of change, we need to acknowledge three things: 1) an old thing that you’re having a hard time letting go; 2) a new thing God is doing now; 3) an example of God’s faithfulness in the past to anchor you. Take some time now to talk with God about these three things as they apply to your life today.
Is there someone you know who needs some coaching to identify these three things in their life before they can move forward in the direction God has for them?