Bayside Church’s theme Scripture for 2014 is Isaiah 43:18-20, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
This is a wonderful promise of God’s provision as He was about to lead His people back to their homeland after being captive in Babylon for 70 years. In the preceding verses God is reminding them of the power He used in setting them free from an earlier captivity when they were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. With mighty strength He brought His people out of Egypt, through the desert and into the Promised Land. But in Isaiah 43 God says, “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new.”
There is a potent life principle here: sometimes we need to forget the greatness of past successes, or the shame of past failures, in order to embrace the new things God has for us in the present and the future. Anything from the past that is holding you back needs to be forgotten otherwise it becomes a hindrance.
But this doesn’t mean we are to forget everything that’s happened in our lives. There are lots of things that we are to remember. Here are three of them:
Remember fond memories: Especially those connected with family and friends. This is part of honoring your father and mother. Remember great friendships, the good things in life, the memories that are cherished and still stir emotions and gratitude. Things like…
• Playing hide and seek
• Eating hot bread and butter
• Playing hopscotch at school
• Running through the sprinklers on a hot summer’s day
• Climbing trees
• Playing Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians
• Pillow fights
• Being tickled
• Running till you were out of breath
• Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt
• Licking the beaters when your mother made a cake
• Jumping into puddles
• Scuffing your shoes through piles of autumn leaves
Remember things you need to rectify: The Bible has lots to say about restitution and forgiveness (see Proverbs 14:9; Matthew 5:23-24). I love the story of Zacchaeus the chief tax collector of Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). Here’s one of the most despised individuals of his day – A man who made his millions by ripping off the battlers (sound familiar?). Amid the grumblings of the battlers Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house. We’re not told what they chatted about but whatever Jesus said had a huge impact on this rich, crooked, lonely little man. Hear Zacchaeus’ words, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” This would have been the equivalent of pumping millions of dollars back into the economy of Jericho as well as making a huge difference to the poor. Imagine the impact – I bet the battlers stopped winging when the cheques arrived! And all because a man remembered and decided to do something to correct the wrongs of the past. Do you have unresolved issues from the past? Do you need to make restitution? Is there anyone you need to forgive?
Remember the great things God has done for you: Psalm 77:11-12 says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds” (have a read of 1 Chronicles 16:8-12 too). Remember God instituted the Passover Feast so that His people wouldn’t forget their mighty deliverance from slavery. But later God told them to forget it. Jesus introduced communion so that we would remember His death and resurrection until He returns: “Do this in remembrance of me” said Jesus (Luke 22:19).
So remember fond memories, the things you need to fix and the amazing things God has done in your life. But if there are things in the past that are holding you back in the present it’s time to forget, move on and embrace the new things God has planned for you.