A lot of people know me as the girl who quit stripping and started Treasures. I am so thankful for all that God has done in my life…but He’s not done yet. He didn’t finish with me the day I walked out of the strip club. (Thankfully!) He is active in my life and constantly doing a new thing.
“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 wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
God wants to do a new thing in all of us. A fresh thing. An unfamiliar thing. Something we have never seen before. He wants to make a way in those circumstances where there seems like there is no way. But so often, we don’t see it. All we can see are the former things. Those things in our past that sap our time, energy, focus and attention and keep us from seeing all that God has for us. God is asking us to forget the former things and to stop dwelling on the past. This doesn’t mean He expects us to have amnesia. Even before this verse in the Bible, Isaiah lists out a few of the things God did in the past, referencing when God rescued the Israelites from their captivity and “made a way through the sea” for them.
God is not asking us to erase the past from our memories…but He is asking us not to dwell on it. He is asking us not to regard the past more than we regard the work that He wants to do today.
Here are just a few of the “Former Things” that I believe distract us from the “New Thing” He wants to do in us:
The Pain, The Mistakes, & The Good ol’ Days
Former Thing #1: The Pain
Sometimes we let the pain from our past shape our future. We carry around the pain from trauma, abuse, rejection, and abandonment and let them color everything around us. Our eyes are stuck on a moment or a season that cause us pain and it is all we can see.
Our unresolved pain can manifest in things like anger, insecurity, self-harm, addiction, the list goes on.
What I have learned about pain is that I have to face it to overcome it.
And because so often our pain is connected to hurts that others have caused us, choosing forgiveness is a big part of facing the pain in our past. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did is “right”, but choosing to forgive means you’re not going to let the hurt define you.
In my own life, I have discovered the words of Maya Angelou to be true, “Forgiveness is setting someone free and realizing the prisoner was you.”
The Bible also has a few things to say about forgiveness.
“And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.” Mark 11:25 (MSG)
Forgiveness is part of God’s plan for a healthy heart and a life of freedom.
Former Thing #2: The Mistakes
Sometimes it’s our mistakes that keep us dwelling on the past. We suffer from a case of the “Woulda Coulda Shouldas”. When we focus on our mistakes, we begin to cave into feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame and all the other junk that keeps us from walking in the freedom that God has for us.
The truth is, not one of us is perfect. We have all made mistakes, or as the bible puts it, we all “… fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23)
Here is the truth…God is BIGGER than your mistakes.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
God is bigger than everything you have ever done wrong. His grace is enough for all of it—Abortions, addictions, disappointed families, divorce, crimes you may have committed…
God’s grace and redemptive power are so incredible that He will take the very things we think disqualify us and use them for good!
If your past mistakes are the “former thing” you find yourself dwelling on, I believe the answer lies in confession. Both to God, and a safe person.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
Confession is a part of God’s plan for healing in your life.
Former Thing #3: The Good ol’ Days
That one relationship
When I had that
When I did that
That time I felt God’s presence
When we get stuck in a pattern of idealizing the past, we are never able to embrace the “new thing”. We get so focused on what we have lost that we can’t see what God has for us. Some of us have had to face some significant losses. In order to move forward, there may need to be a grieving process.
A while back, a friend invited me to a grief recovery group. Having just finished an in depth journey through the 12 Steps of Recovery (AKA Step Study) through Celebrate Recovery , the last thing I wanted to do was start another recovery group.
But as I prayed about it and considered what the next layer of healing would look like after the breakup of my marriage , I kept hearing God say, “Your pain is grief”. Actually, it was about all I could hear Him say until I finally called my friend and told her I would join her stinkin’ grief group.
What I learned is that I had to say goodbye to some things. Not just the marriage. But the hope I had for it, the expectations, the pain. It was the only way to move forward.
Grief isn’t fun. But sometimes it’s necessary. And God meets us in that place. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Mt 5:4 (MSG)
God is doing a new thing. He has a new word, a redeemed plan, a new work He wants to do. He is making a way for you…even in that place where there seems like there is no way. Often, it is in the context of “desert” or “wilderness” circumstances that He does some of His best work.
“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 wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19
Don’t let the former things keep you from what God has for you today.
Are you ready to move past the past?
Love, Harmony Dust