Weekly Devotional

WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL – “Remember Ye Not the Former Things”

As we crossed over the threshold of another new year, many of us looked back wistfully at the past year.  For some, despite the lingering COVID-19 presence and its continued impact on our daily lives, the year was one of mixed blessings; some successes mixed in with some failures. For others of us, it was a year of missed opportunities and “what might have been.”  There are things we wished we had said and done differently, and things we probably regretted saying and doing.  Regardless of where we directed our thoughts, one thing was clear.  No matter how badly we wanted to, we could not go back in time and change anything that was or was not said or done.

In his reflection on time, American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) writes, “Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.”  However, centuries before, words to the same effect were spoken by the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Israel, “Thus saith the LORD . . . Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:16a, 18-19, KJV).  Focusing on the past can impact us positively or negatively.  We can become thoroughly satisfied with our successes or mentally and emotionally crippled by our failures.  We can spend so much time looking backward that we fail to move forward timely and effectively. There is a reason the rearview mirror in a vehicle is so small relative to the windshield. We glance back every now and again for awareness of what is going on around us, but we focus our eyes on going forward.  There are important lessons we can learn from our past experiences, and we should learn them, but let us not build tents around those experiences. We should not allow them to define us.

One of the common sayings to start a new year is “New Year, New Me.”  However, a “new me” and a “new you” require you and me to change some of the things that worked against us last year.  We cannot hope for different outcomes if we keep on with the same negative attitudes, behaviors, and mindsets (Proverbs 23:7a; Romans 12:2). We must take responsibility for our words and actions and reconcile when and where possible (Matthew 5:23-24). In addition to changing those things, there are other things God wants us to forget.  Our past losses, sorrows, and sufferings; associations, beliefs, and traditions that hindered His working in our lives; the focus on self; past accomplishments and achievements that would distract us from offering glory to Him; the failures that continue to haunt us, to name a few. As we begin the new year, God stands poised yet again to do new things that shall “spring forth.”  If 2021 was a year of failures and disappointments, 2022 can be a year of recovery and restoration (Joel 2:25); if it was successful, there are more victories to be celebrated and some failures to learn and grow from (Romans 8:28-29). We serve an awesome God to whom nothing is impossible (Jeremiah 32:26-27; Matthew 19:26).

Let us take God at His Word. Forgetting the former things, the things that did not work for us, and looking forward to the “new thing” He will be doing in our hearts and lives. It is my prayer that He surprises you and me in ways far beyond anything we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and I pray that especially for you and yours for this New Year. He is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23).

About the author

Colin Wilson

Easy going, dislike negativity, and an optimist. I believe that amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday living, each day is a gift from God and if we stop and think about it, there is at least one thing for which we ought to be thankful. In addition, I believe that every day is a great day to be alive. No matter how bad we think we have it, there are any number of people who are on the "other side" who, if they could, would gladly trade places with us. Email me at [email protected]