“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)
I went to the wilderness this past weekend with a few good friends and it was wonderful! Out in the wilderness, creation speaks nothing of coronavirus, economic downturns, etc. etc. etc. It speaks life. Streams in the wasteland. My favorite part of the whole trip was stopping at a waterfall and taking a swim. It was unseasonably hot, so jumping off a 10 foot cliff into a blue hole was amazingly refreshing! That was one of my highs for the trip.
My low was when we came to a section that had just been closed off because a wilderness forest fire had reached the section we were planning to hike. We only had two more miles to our campsite on top of Odom’s Point, literally the high point of our trip! So what did we do?
We backtracked a bit and found a camping area along a tiny stream, and made camp there. We were all a little bummed, but determined to make the best of it. And as it turns out, we had the best evening, sitting in a circle, sharing our lives and enjoying the goodness of God. God’s purpose prevailed.
For me, this year has not gone as planned. Like, at all. Let’s see, a global pandemic creates a health crisis, shuts down the economy, and successfully thwarts just about everything I had in mind to accomplish this year. To date, every speaking engagement I had has been cancelled or postponed through August, and there’s no guarantee of what’s happening beyond that. So much for the Scars of Hope speaking tour. Then they shut down the Appalachian Trail which eliminated most of my Born 2 Be Wild trips for the Spring and Summer. And counseling dropped from 10-12 clients a week, to 1-2 clients a week.
I did not see that coming.
It reminds me of the familiar passage in James 4:13-17, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” (uh, Bruce.) Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. (Ain’t that the truth!) What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (Note to self.) As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
My word for the year is progress. But how do you make progress when you’re not exactly sure what you’re progressing toward?
You see, at the end of that passage, James has made it clear that we don’t know what a day will look like, much less a year. So don’t make assumptions about what you will and won’t be able to do. But then in a pivot, he points out that we are to be doing good every day, not waiting for tomorrow! He even goes as far as to say, procrastinating on “the good we ought to do” is sin. Yikes.
So, while my plans didn’t go as planned, God’s purpose is still prevailing. Proverbs 19:21 reminds us, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV) I trust that. Now how do I adapt to God’s purposes? What’s the good I ought to do?
Forget the former things. Don’t dwell on the past. Look for what God is springing up around me NOW.
So, while I can’t speak in person anywhere, I can speak via video to anyone in the world. Check. I’m producing a 28-day series of videos called “The Journey of Hope” that takes people through the book, Desperate For Hope. I’m offering the “Scars of Hope” message on video as part of a Journey of Hope bundle. And I’m making video counseling available to anyone who needs it. And I’m producing a YouTube video/podcast with my brother, Roger. Then in June, I hope to make progress on my podcast, “This Changes Everything.”
Here’s something I shared earlier this month that’s worth repeating right now. There’s one thing you’ll NEVER hear God say. You ready for it?
“I didn’t see that coming.”
The Holy Trinity–Father, Son and Holy Spirit are never scrambling around in the heavenly realm, wringing their hands, crying, “Oh no, what are we going to do now? Our plan has been thwarted.” No, they’re at work, every day, achieving their purposes through you and I, if we’re willing to adapt to their work in the world. Jesus made it clear, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” (John 5:17, NIV) In other words, God never takes a day off. He’s making progress, “working all things together for good…” according to His great and glorious purposes.
So how about you friend? Where do you need to adapt. Where do you need to forget the former things, forget the past, and look for what God is doing now? Don’t procrastinate.
It’s springing up all around us!