A New Year and a New Road

the-road

I’ve got a problem. I live in the past too much.

There’s nothing wrong with turning around and looking back.  It’s like using the rearview mirror when you’re driving.  You need to look back to see what’s going on for safety reasons, just like it’s important to look back at your past to learn from your mistakes, to protect yourself from making the same blunders.

But what if you’re actually staring back, your eyes fixed or glued on all you’ve done wrong and you keep reliving your mistakes over and over again?  It can be just as detrimental as driving while fixating on the view behind you.  You’d miss your turn, swerve into a ditch, or possibly rear-end the vehicle ahead of you.  Having your eyes glued to the rearview mirror is like living in the past.  It’s a dangerous way to live.

Are you reliving some of your relationships from your past, how great they were and how things have drifted so far?   But the sad truth is those people you remember so fondly don’t even know who you are anymore.  And really, you don’t know them either.  The whole thing can leave your heart aching for the past or harden it because the drifting has made you angry and you refuse to let something like that happen again.

Eventually, you start to drive faster to escape it all but you still keep looking back and you miss what’s right there in front of you, some wonderful blessing God has for you.

I went to God with all of this.  Like I said, I’ve got a problem with living in the past.  I remember things, people, and I ache for the way things used to be sometimes.  Do you know what God told me? Look for Me back there.

Really?  Why didn’t I think of that?  I started looking back specifically to search for God.  And He was there.  He was there when I was so depressed during junior high school, when I would sit on the top of this huge hill in our back yard and cry.  He had His arm around me.

He was there when I went off to college and thought drinking was a huge part of being there.  He was there protecting me, leading me back to my dorm room every time.

He was there when I was smiling at graduation, the sun skimming the top of the building and landing on my face.   His hands were warm on my cheeks as He kissed me on the forehead, only I didn’t know it was Him at that moment.  But I know now.

God was there when I met my husband, making my heart swell, and He was there in the hospital room when our daughter was born and she cried, strong and loud.  And again, He was with me in a hospital room years later when my Mom had a massive stroke, and again when my Dad had complications after quadruple bypass. He held me tighter than ever on those days, listening to my prayers, my tears, as I begged Him to help them.  And He did.  And He held me so gently, warmly when I stood at my Grandpa’s funeral in December years ago, and again in the warmer Missouri air at my Grandma’s gravesite in April.

So all the moments in my past when I really needed someone, God was there.  And yet, I see Him there by my side the countless times I’ve washed dishes or folded laundry, when I got up in the middle of the night all those times to give our daughter medicine, and every morning when I fixed coffee.  He’s always there when I look back, at every memory.

But I can’t live back there because the bad finds a way of mixing in with the good, and that’s where the pain can take hold and sprout into something ugly and harmful.  It’s time to take hold of those memories I have of God and all the good, the lasting relationships He’s brought into my life, and bring them with me as I look forward; like snapshots I can tape to the dashboard.

A new year is coming and I love the idea of new; a clean slate, endless possibilities on the horizon as I drive forward on this new road.  I can still glance back and remember the lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes, but it’s time to let my failures go, leave them in the dust, let them fade.

I’ve asked God to forgive me for all those things I’ve messed up and He has.  So now it’s time to drive, to put the windows down and feel the freedom rush over me.  No more regrets.  No more guilt.  No more shame.  Now it’s just the touch of God on my heart as He tells me which way to go.

And with His direction, my friends, we won’t miss our turn.

“But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV.)

 

 

 

An Old Pair of Shoes

shoes

Are you still doing what God called you to do because He wants you to stick with it or because it’s comfortable like an old pair of shoes and you just don’t want to change?

Think about those old shoes for a minute.  They feel the same way when you slip them on, you know what to expect, and you remember the holes in them so you know to watch for puddles after it rains.  They’re predictable and safe.

But are they the best for you?

Are they the shoes God wants you to wear today?  Are you doing what God wants you to do today?

Perhaps He has something new for you.  A new calling, a new pair of shoes you’d never consider trying because they’re not your favorite style or color and you don’t feel like you can be you in them.  (And really, you know, they’ll probably be a little uncomfortable at first.)

But God knows you.  He knows every talent you have (He gave you those), every weakness (He’s allowed those too), and He’s well aware of that quiet dream deep within your heart that you keep tucked away.  (He knows how that dream scares you and excites you at the same time.)

God also knows when it’s time to take off the old shoes and wait for the new ones.

Does that mean you will be barefoot at some point in time in God’s calling on your life?

Possibly.  If He’s told you to take off the old shoes and He has yet to provide the new ones, then yes.  And while you’re waiting on God for those new shoes, for Him to lead the way into something new for your life, you have to sit down and wait for Him.  Your feet will be in no shape to travel any great distance or along razor-sharp terrain; you wouldn’t know which way to go anyway, would you?

So you sit and wait on God.  How long is this going to take?

As long as God wants it to take.

But some of it depends on you.

If you’re impatient, trying to hurry God, or you set out on your own, barefoot, it could take longer than if you just waited on Him.  Not to mention it could be very painful.

And those around you may not understand what you’re going through.  They may wonder what in the world you are doing, why you are doing nothing (waiting really IS doing something…it’s trusting God right through those cravings of wanting to do the old things), and why can’t you just keep doing what you’ve been doing?

If God tells you to slip off those old shoes, don’t put them back on because someone else believes you should or because someone hands you a lovely portrait of you doing those things you used to do.  Look carefully at that painting.  Do you see the cracked paint, the faded colors?  And if you reach out to take it you’ll realize it weighs a ton; the frame is made from pure guilt.

You need to leave it behind and walk away because you know you are to listen to God, not stare back at a picture of your old self and try to figure out your next move.

God will let you know what He wants you to do.

And when His timing has arrived and He provides the new calling, those new shoes, just think how amazing it will be to slip them on.  You won’t even notice if they’re a little uncomfortable because you’ll be focusing on the righteous right hand of God that is holding your own, leading you down a new path as you leave that old pair of shoes behind.

“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.”  (Isaiah 43: 18-19 NIV.)

 

 

A New Year and a New Road

the-road

I’ve got a problem. I live in the past too much.

There’s nothing wrong with turning around and looking back.  It’s like using the rearview mirror when you’re driving.  You need to look back to see what’s going on for safety reasons, just like it’s important to look back at your past to learn from your mistakes, to protect yourself from making the same blunders.

But what if you’re actually staring back, your eyes fixed or glued on all you’ve done wrong and you keep reliving your mistakes over and over again?  It can be just as detrimental as driving while fixating on the view behind you.  You’d miss your turn, swerve into a ditch, or possibly rear-end the vehicle ahead of you.  Having your eyes glued to the rearview mirror is like living in the past.  It’s a dangerous way to live.

Are you reliving some of your relationships from your past, how great they were and how things have drifted so far?   But the sad truth is those people you remember so fondly don’t even know who you are anymore.  And really, you don’t know them either.  The whole thing can leave your heart aching for the past or harden it because the drifting has made you angry and you refuse to let something like that happen again.

Eventually, you start to drive faster to escape it all but you still keep looking back and you miss what’s right there in front of you, some wonderful blessing God has for you.

I went to God with all of this.  Like I said, I’ve got a problem with living in the past.  I remember things, people, and I ache for the way things used to be sometimes.  Do you know what God told me? Look for Me back there.

Really?  Why didn’t I think of that?  I started looking back specifically to search for God.  And He was there.  He was there when I was so depressed during junior high school, when I would sit on the top of this huge hill in our back yard and cry.  He had His arm around me.

He was there when I went off to college and thought drinking was a huge part of being there.  He was there protecting me, leading me back to my dorm room every time.

He was there when I was smiling at graduation, the sun skimming the top of the building and landing on my face.   His hands were warm on my cheeks as He kissed me on the forehead, only I didn’t know it was Him at that moment.  But I know now.

God was there when I met my husband, making my heart swell, and He was there in the hospital room when our daughter was born and she cried, strong and loud.  And again, He was with me in a hospital room years later when my Mom had a massive stroke, and again when my Dad had complications after quadruple bypass. He held me tighter than ever on those days, listening to my prayers, my tears, as I begged Him to help them.  And He did.  And He held me so gently, warmly when I stood at my Grandpa’s funeral in December years ago, and again in the warmer Missouri air at my Grandma’s gravesite in April.

So all the moments in my past when I really needed someone, God was there.  And yet, I see Him there by my side the countless times I’ve washed dishes or folded laundry, when I got up in the middle of the night all those times to give our daughter medicine, and every morning when I fixed coffee.  He’s always there when I look back, at every memory.

But I can’t live back there because the bad finds a way of mixing in with the good, and that’s where the pain can take hold and sprout into something ugly and harmful.  It’s time to take hold of those memories I have of God and all the good, the lasting relationships He’s brought into my life, and bring them with me as I look forward; like snapshots I can tape to the dashboard.

A new year is coming and I love the idea of new; a clean slate, endless possibilities on the horizon as I drive forward on this new road.  I can still glance back and remember the lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes, but it’s time to let my failures go, leave them in the dust, let them fade.

I’ve asked God to forgive me for all those things I’ve messed up and He has.  So now it’s time to drive, to put the windows down and feel the freedom rush over me.  No more regrets.  No more guilt.  No more shame.  Now it’s just the touch of God on my heart as He tells me which way to go.

And with His direction, my friends, we won’t miss our turn.

“But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV.)