December 31, 2013

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

On this last day of 2013, I’m thinking of the past year and the coming year, but my usual pattern is to think about the current day. I want to forget the past and would like to predict the future, but reality says I can do neither. Even the challenges of each day are often overwhelming.
Yet this is what I love about the Lord; He has the ability to get inside my head and heart and speak to whatever is happening in there. Today’s devotional reading is about those thoughts about the past, the future, and about right now. It uses this passage to speak to my heart . . .  

The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:10–12)

God guards the past. As I try to look ahead to new beginnings suggested by a turnover on the calendar, I also think about all my sins and mistakes of the past year. Those memories mar my joy, yet God says they are important memories. He allows them so I do not have a shallow security for today or my future.

God also uses my failures to teach me to pray about everything and to be on the alert regarding temptation and specific weaknesses. Without the stumbling and bumbling, I would still need to learn those lessons, but thankfully, some of them are behind me. Even though some of those hurdles were tipped over by my big feet, I’m glad to be moving forward and glad that I’ve learned to jump higher.

The Lord will go before me. God is my security for the future. He knows my weaknesses and will watch over me. He knows what to allow and what to keep away. He watches so that my life will grow in likeness to Christ and all that happens to me will be toward that end. The past affirms that He will be here for me no matter what, and that all things have purpose for His glory and my good.

I will not go out with haste. The devotional reading suggests that as I go forth into the coming year, it should not be with impulsive thoughtlessness or impetuous delight that remembers nothing, but with the patient and steadfast assurance of knowing that my God will go before me. My yesterdays present irreparable things. I have lost opportunities which will never return, but the Lord still promises to use all things for my good, that I might become more like Jesus. He can transform destructive anxiety about failures into constructive thoughtfulness for the future. He will help me leave the irreparable past in His hands. He invites me, and all who love Him, to trust Him as we step into the future.

I cannot undo past mistakes, or control the future, or even make sense of most of today, but my sovereign God is willing and able to take charge of all that as He goes before me, guarding the past, planning the future, and guiding each step of the way.

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