That is the theme of this past week---Isaiah 43. It seems like every time I read something this past week, it referenced that chapter of the Bible. I knew that I needed to read the whole chapter myself since I kept being reminded of it. That chapter is special to me from past promises and gave me new promises.
In 2006, when the Lord told me to go to India on a mission trip, I really was not excited about it. Who would be? I mean I had heard of the unsanitary conditions, the lack of sleep that people got on these trips, and most recently I had heard of the water. You see, two of my pastors had just been to India in August, the rainy season. There was so much flooding in the slum area of Bombay (a.k.a., Mumbai) that my pastors had to take off their shoes and socks, roll up their pants legs and wade through water that was a foot deep and so murky that they had no idea where they were stepping. But they had to do it in order to see the precious orphan children that our church cares for. And when I went on my trip in January of 2007, we would be visiting all the children, too, even the ones at the same home that my pastors waded through the water to get to. All I could picture after that was walking through that murky water. What if I stepped on something sharp and cut my foot, only to get a severe infection or something worse? What if there were snakes in that water? The "What ifs" went on and on, and I just couldn't seem to stop thinking about them. I prayed about it because I was very uneasy.
The Lord heard my prayers and gave me an answer!! I love it when the answer to a prayer comes quickly. Then I am able to remember that I am precious to my Father (I am Daddy's baby girl!). Of course, as a side note, I must say that I am always precious to my Father even when the answers to my prayers are delayed or come in a different form than expected! Back to my story... the Lord lead me to Isaiah 43:2 which says,
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
You will not be burned;
The flames will not set you ablaze.
Amazing!!! Right there in God's word, He had an answer prepared for me long before I was even born!! I tried to focus on the water part though, since fire was mentioned. I hadn't even thought of fire... But I digress.... From that point on, I began to get excited about my trip to India.
I do want to make sure that you notice though that it says "when you pass through the waters." It doesn't say IF you do, but WHEN you do. That is a great reminder for all of life. We will pass through water and fire in this life, maybe not literally, but at least figuratively. We need to remember during those times when we feel that we are drowning or burning up that our Daddy, who loves us so much, is right there with us!! There will never be a trial that comes that God says to us, "Sweetie, you are on your own with this one!" Instead He will walk through the trials with us, carrying us when we are too weak to walk ourselves.
What a wonderful reminder that was from my past. A time when God showed me that He heard my prayers and He loves me enough to stick with me in the difficult times as well as the good times. You can't rely on mere human beings to do that for you!
But as I read on in that Isaiah 43, I came to verses 18-19. This part of the chapter served as my new encouragement for the season that I am in right now. It says:
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 desert
and streams in the wasteland.
Hallelujah and Thank You, Jesus!! Does anyone besides me need a "new thing"? I have been struggling in this same place for so long that I feel like it will be my home forever. But God told me this week that He is doing a new thing!!! Have I not perceived it yet? Maybe I have been too busy dwelling on the former things... But I have been instructed to forget that stuff. Of course, we cannot truly forget (unless we get amnesia), but really what God wants is for us to not let the mistakes and problems from our past to define who we are forever. First Corinthians 5:17 clearly tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" I believe that the old is going and the new is coming continually. It is a process of being "conformed into the likeness of His Son (Jesus)." (Romans 8:29) Lord, thank you for giving me the hope of "a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Now help me to truly "forget the former things" and not dwell on them!
So there it is! Remembering God's faithful promises from the past and seeing that current promise of a "new thing!" Lord, may I begin to perceive it and wait expectantly on You to fulfill Your promises to me!!
Blessings to you,