A New Thing
As I search for an insightful scripture for the start of a new year, I find myself centering upon Isaiah 43:18-19: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
In this passage, God is talking to the Judean exiles in Babylon. Around 587 BCE, Judah was conquered by Babylon and many of the leaders were deported from Judah to an exilic existence in Babylon. Several decades later, Persia conquered Babylon and the exiles were free to return home to Judah. So God does not want those in exile to remember the painful past that led to their exilic existence. Rather God wants them to look forward because he is doing a new thing. He is leading them out of exile and back home where the returning exiles and those who remained in Judah can create a new existence as they follow God together.
By the time many of you read this, 2011 will be history. It will be in the category of the “former things” that Isaiah talks about. The past year may have been a good one for you or it may have been one in which you felt as if you were in your own exile. Whatever the case may be, the point is that the New Year, 2012, is a chance for a new start for some and for others it will be the continuation of a good year. It is an opportunity for us to be aware of the new things that God is doing in our lives and in the life of the church. Isaiah is not saying that we should forget the “former things” to the point that we wipe out our past. Rather he is suggesting that we don’t let the past bog us down to the point that we are not responsive to the new things that God has in store for us.
Through Isaiah, God tells the Judean exiles that he is doing a new thing as they enter a new phase of their lives. As we enter a new year, can we perceive the new things that God is doing for us? Can we be aware and responsive as to how God will work through us in 2012? We hope and pray that whatever wildernesses and deserts we encounter in the coming year, that we will be able to see particular ways and rivers that God opens up for us. May the New Year be a blessing to all of us.