“This is what the LORD says — he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “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 43:16, Isaiah 43:18-19
Take a step back in time. Who remembers their first heartbreak? Did the tinge of awkward emotions well up inside looking for an avenue of release? Now, where did the pain end up? Did it travel down a path hoping for comfort and understanding only to meet a code of silence on a dead-end, cul-de-sac? After spending enough time there, you soon show people the polished part of a wounded facade because who can you trust with a fragile heart?
I use to climb the back porch railing with book in hand. If we didn’t make the visit to my aunt and uncle’s home where their low-pitched roof beckoned me, I made every excuse to hightail it to the local library. Both places provided an escape when the dark road of domestic violence set up blockades around our childhood home. Growing up, the trappings of despair and abandonment seemed constant, but I valiantly shielded my heart from the stressors. Wonder Woman had a better success rate deflecting bullets with her bracelets than I did in deflecting the wrath of another parental outburst. Maybe you can relate. When tensions flared, I found sure safety in isolation. When threatened with confrontation, creative ways to avoid the conflict became my super power, yet their diatribes still penetrated my defenses.
They say, old habits die hard especially when they’ve served us well in the past. But when God enters the heart, He changes the habit. He sees us as a new creation, worthy of more than a minor cosmetic job. His Word constructs a blueprint where we no longer need past behaviors and coping styles to shield us from new life situations. That’s why He calls us to “forget the former things” (Isaiah 43:18), not because He can’t be trusted, but that He can. So I can choose this new and improved way of being and doing by following His new and improved design for me. When tensions flare, He shows me how to open my heart to the beauty and uniqueness of community. Though conflict, by its design, tends to throw a cog in adult interactions, it doesn’t have to reduce me to childlike, knee-jerk responses. God gives me the option to confront in love.
Taking a step back in time reminds us how to take a step forward, to let go and to choose. Our past dwellings served to shield us from heartbreak and pain, but Christ came to open our closed-off road to endless wonders, beautiful creations and new digs deserving of a daughter of royal lineage.
Out of the cup-de-sac of the past and standing at a new crossroad, which road will you choose?