By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
A Prayer for Newness
By Jessica Van Roekel
“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, ESV
Do you have regrets? I know I do. I can get so caught up in regretting decisions from a year ago, a month ago, or a day ago. Maybe it was taking the wrong way home and getting caught in a traffic jam. Or it was flinging harsh words at a loved one. Sometimes it’s faithlessness in the face of God’s faithfulness that fills me with regret.
The apostle Peter knew regret. He betrayed and rejected Jesus while Jesus faced his accusers. He couldn’t stay awake and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. He refused to accept Jesus’ declaration that Jesus would suffer, die, and rise again on the third day. Peter was well acquainted with regrets, yet he also knew the power of forgiveness and restoration.
I wonder if, when Peter was old, he ever looked back at his empty passion and ruefully shook his head at his immature self. It could be that his many regrettable mistakes led him to the place where his passion would have a thread of steel running through it. When we choose to remember not the former things, it means we don’t dwell on it so much that we fail to see the new things God does in our lives.
Our past could overtake our present and determine our future, or we could place our past in the Lord’s gentle hands and allow his grace and mercy to overtake us. In this passage from Isaiah 43, Isaiah captures so beautifully how God promises restoration and rescue. The Lord makes his way through the mighty waters of the sea to bring his people to a new land, a new purpose, a new resolve.
Our regrets tempt us to spend too much time dwelling on the past and all the mistakes it holds. It becomes a wilderness filled with thorns and danger. People serve as reminders. Places take us back in time. And in an instant, we feel our thoughts spiral out of control. But God.
He promises to make a way through the wilderness. And not only does he guide us through it, but he also somehow makes it a place of beauty. If we can let him lead us from regret to a place of remembering not, we discover so much. We discover the power of forgiveness. We receive forgiveness and extend it. We learn about joy and suffering and how we can hold them in the same hand.
We give him full access to every part of our heart—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and submit to his ministrations. He refines us. Yes, this sometimes involves walking through the wilderness we thought we had left far behind. But this time, we walk with eyes wide open to the newness he creates.
With his help, we can see where bitter places grew the fruit of forgiveness and surrender. We forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and we forgive others for their trespasses against us. We see how surrender bloomed into a beautiful trust that the Lord is good and that what he does is good. And when we look back, we remember God’s faithfulness to make a way in the wilderness and to provide what we need for spiritual sustenance in the desert.
If your regrets prove to be overwhelming, release them to the Lord. Allow him to meet you right where you are, just as Jesus met Peter on the beach after Jesus rose from the dead. Go to him the way Peter ran to him. Fall at his feet and receive from him. In him, all things are made new.
I feel stuck in the wilderness of regret. I’m lost as I remember things I would rather forget. But in you is the newness of life. You promise to do a new thing. I’m ready for it, Lord. I stand with eyes wide open to what you’re about to do. I’m looking for a new time of forgiveness, blessing, restoration, and your presence. So, I’m going to praise you right now, at this moment, because I believe that you’ve made me new.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/flyparade
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
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