“New Days” Meditations 11: Things to Forget
Isa 43:18,19“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.See, I am doing a new thing!”
I find myself drawn back to that word from Isaiah we considered before but now the words that preceded it, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” This is strange because there are so many things of the past that were good – how we came to Christ, for instance, the many blessings we have received in the past, all the good memories we have – and we have lots in the mix of our past lives. The truth often is that we don’t want to forget the past but we need to if it will hinder being open to something new the Lord wants to do today. Perhaps we need to pray for grace to let go of the past sometimes.
We will look at some of the things from the past in the next few studies but for the moment I want us to ponder on the action of letting go the past. It is – and I suspect you’ve never heard someone put it quite like this – a requirement to be a disciple of Jesus. Why do I say that? Think about what happened when Jesus chose his disciples in the Gospels. When Jesus calls the fishermen we read, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Lk 5:11) We take it for granted but ‘everything’ includes the past.
For this unique little group of four fishermen it meant walking away and forgetting their livelihoods as fishermen – yet it is clear that later after the Cross, they still had a hankering to do it (Jn 21) and so it was only later events that swept those things away. For us Jesus doesn’t call most of us to walk away from our livelihoods, our jobs, careers, college courses etc. – although for some he will. Our call is to surrender our present to him for him to be Lord and Saviour and that therefore means a new way of doing things, forgetting how we used to live out our lives.
But that’s the difficult bit isn’t it, breaking free from old habits, old self-centred thoughts and actions. We’re told the power of sin has been broken but the thoughts and habits hang around and we constantly have to grab the moment and, with his aid, declare I will not act like that any more, I will let grace and goodness flow, I will not think negative thoughts, I will be kind and gracious. In one sense we have to remember that we are born again but even more we have to remember that we are now vessels of the Holy Spirit who indwells us to help us. Perhaps the best way to forget the past and let go who we used to be, is to focus on today with the reminder, which we’ll look at in later studies, that we are new creations and with new goals, and that takes us into focusing on the future, where I want to go in life – and that applies as much to those of us who are a lot older as well as to those of us who are still young.