When Jesus spoke in parables to his disciples and to the crowds gathered to hear him, he often ended by saying “if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” In other passages, Jesus talked about having eyes to see as well. In Mark, he said to his disciples, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts so hard? Having eyes, do you not see?”
So often, we think that what our eyes see is absolute reality. And yet, what we see can be influenced by our circumstances, clouded by our regrets, and veiled by our emotions. I think many of us struggle to see what God has done and is doing in both our professional and personal lives. Perhaps we are dealing with difficult circumstances at work or at home. Maybe we have let ourselves or others down. Perhaps we have made what seems to be an irreparable mistake. Or it could be that we have been offended or hurt by someone else. We then spend a lot of time beating ourselves up for our missteps or placing blame on others when things don’t go our way. And so, our eyes can start to become focused on the wrong things.
In our culture, there is a lot of emphasis on living in the present. Magazine articles talk at length about being fully present in our lives and living day to day. Books like “The Power of Now,” “Present over Perfect,” and “10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Tips for Living in the Present Moment” promise readers that they can learn to forget the past and stop worrying about the future. These concepts are not new, however. The Bible has taught these precepts for generations. To be honest, in my own life, I sometimes struggle with this. I tend to look back too much and dwell on what I could or should have done differently. Or, I will look toward the future as if all of my problems will be solved when I get to a certain goal. That impacts what my eyes see on a day to day basis.
Recently, as I read Isaiah 43 these words in verses 18-19 seemed to leap off the page at me, as if they were written just for me.
“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.”
Take note of all of the action verbs that are required of us in this passage. Forget. Do not dwell. See. Perceive. But also take note that these verses are all about what God is doing right now. Now it springs up. I am making a way. The focus is on the present. The reality is, God is doing a new thing all around us at this very moment whether we notice it or not. But do we have eyes to see? Are we actively working to forget the former things? Are we making the decision not to dwell on the past? Are we perceiving God’s reality or are we allowing our eyes to see only the desert, the wasteland, and the old things around us? Are we seeing that He is doing a new thing in the here and now, not just in the past as we look back at how He has worked in our lives over the years, and not just in the future when all things will finally be made new?
See, I am doing a new thing. Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way…
And so, in our personal lives and in our work here at Messiah Lifeways, my prayer is that we will each make the choice to actively look for and perceive what God is doing all around us. May we forget what we need to forget. May we not dwell on the past. And each day, may we see the new thing that is springing up in our families, in this ministry, and in the greater community. Lord, give us eyes to see.
Shared Devotional for the Messiah Lifeways Board meeting [March 12th, 2019]