Writing this on the first day of a new year, I find myself looking back in reflection on both the difficult times and the good times. I’m recalling a time when life had to be lived literally one day at a time, during which a friend spoke hope-filled words which landed in my heart, “I think the Lord may want to give you another season.”
I failed to realise I had much to learn in the intervening time. In the major issues, God’s presence seemed so real that to surrender to Him, trust His wisdom and unending love brought peace and joy. However, when faced with a series of events such as I’d never had to handle before, and which continued for several months, it was a different story. I was becoming increasingly stressed and agitated. When one of my grandchildren asked me why so many things were going wrong for me I recognised that the Lord was trying to speak to me. He showed me that He’s interested in the whole of life, and He’ll act on my behalf in these lesser frustrating episodes if they’re surrendered to Him. In His grace, He allowed these months to speak to me in a new way, and to change some heart attitudes.
God can only do a new thing through me when He has done a new thing in me. Like the seasons, winter can be long hard and cold, short days and long nights, but winter heralds spring – new life, new growth; the beginning of a new season. You can’t hurry a season. Some seasons seem longer than others, but each one is preparing us for the next. So why not let God prepare you for the new season, which will surely come.
Life in all its fullness is not dependent upon our circumstances but on our relationship with Jesus. Difficult situations have never been mastered by discouragement, but always by trust in Him. In one sense a New Year is a new season for us all, if we make the time to look back and then move forward into whatever God has in store. For much of life the seasons are imperceptible, but God is always doing a new thing. We move with Him or become stuck where we are with a foot in the past.
It’s not wrong to look back – it can be a solid reminder of God’s faithfulness; a time to recall Him working in us and preparing us for a new season so that He can work through us. Looking back, we must see experiences, good and bad, as stepping stones in our lives to spiritual growth. God delights to do new things in the lives of His children – to teach us new truths about Himself, and give us new opportunities to trust Him more.
However, if you’re continually looking back, you can’t see where you’re going. You can’t allow your past failures to hook you into the past. Face the past, receive and give forgiveness, and rejoice in the freedom Jesus won for us on the cross. When we’re wallowing in the hurts and pain of yesterday we can’t see the new things God is doing. That’s why He says in our text “Do you not perceive it?”
Past blessings can hold us back if we want the same again. Our God is a creative God, forever moving on. Past blessings are for a time gone by but He has new blessings for a new season and new ways of speaking to us. Past failures can hold us back too, especially when we feel we’ve let God down in some way. Each of us needs to look beyond our struggles and disappointment, and receive His cleansing and renewal. Looking to Jesus we can say “I will trust and not be afraid, for You, Lord, are my hope, my strength, my song and my salvation”.
God is always doing a new thing; whatever the past has held for us, it’s not good to dwell on it, or we’ll miss the new thing. We need eyes to see and ears to hear what He’s doing and saying now. When God says, He’s going to do a new thing, it’s often to do with relationships and service with His people. We need to invite Him to do a new thing in us, to prepare us for what He desires to do through us. This can mean we have to let go of the comfortable or familiar, the old ways of thinking or doing things, and trust His guiding presence when He leads us on unfamiliar paths.
As God brings me to a new season in my life, I’m overjoyed to see that He’s bringing my church, and the churches in my city, into a new season. It’s clearly the work of His Holy Spirit drawing the lost and the broken into a relationship with Jesus. The highest goal of all we do is to bring people to faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and an experience of the abundant life that only He can provide.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the joy and privilege of belonging to You. Thank You for Jesus, and all He accomplished on the cross, and for the Holy Spirit whom You’ve given to us as the Counsellor. I praise You for Your faithfulness in the past. I pray that You’ll now do a new work in me so You can do Your work more powerfully through me, as You lead me into a new season of knowing, loving and serving You. May my life be increasingly for the glory of Jesus, Amen.
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