Leaving 2016

“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 52:12 ESV).

We’ve all heard the cliche, “Out with the old, and in with the new.” Yet, people are not computers with hard drives that can be erased and new software installed. We remember. Even though the calendar may have changed to a new year, many of us remain stuck in the past. The dearer the loss, the deeper the engrained sorrow. The greater the pain, the more lingering its intense memory.

Some were married or had a child in 2016. Some got that promotion at work or were finally able to buy their first home. The year 2016 was a milestone year of happiness and achievement for them. Strangely, they will have no problem leaving 2016 behind and embracing 2017 with hopeful expectancy.

Yet, for those who lost a loved one this past year, those whose troubled marriage ended in divorce, those who lost a job, or heard the doctor say the word, “Cancer.” For them, 2016 is a year to run from, a year to forget. However, the harder they try to erase or medicate, the more they remember. They are stuck in the muck of past memory. And it keeps them from moving forward.

How can we leave the past, live in the present, and not worry about the future?

God told the prophet Isaiah how the Israelites should leave Egypt, which was a place of pain and slavery, and trust Him with the future. We can learn from God’s instruction on how to leave our hurtful past behind and trust Him with our future. Notice His three instructions:

  1. Leave yesterday in God’s care. God told them, “You shall not go in flight.” He didn’t want them running away from their past. Instead, He comforted them by saying, “The God of Israel will be your rear guard.” In other words, God said, “I’ve got your back.” When you look at your past, look at it through the lens of God’s grace and forgiveness. View it through the promise of God in Romans 8:28. Give God your past!  How?
  1. Trust tomorrow to God’s provision. Isaiah told them, “The Lord will go before you.” God told them, “I’m leading the way. I’m taking point. Follow Me.” Don’t let yesterday ruin your tomorrow. Just because there was pain and suffering in your rear view mirror, doesn’t mean that there’s more pain coming around the next turn. Trust God with your tomorrow. He’s already out there paving the way.
  1. Focus on living for today in God’s power. The Lord told them, “You shall not go out in haste.” Don’t be in such a hurry to leave yesterday behind and dive into tomorrow. Live in the now. Be fully present. Give God your past and future. Live for today praying, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). And daily denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Him (Luke 9:23).

God has our backs, He is running point on our future, so we can focus on living today in His power. That’s how to leave 2016 and get on with living for today.

 

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