Prayer: Our Powerful Parenting Tool

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Sometimes, all we can do is wear out the carpet with our knees. 

God used my son to teach me this valuable lesson during his first couple years of elementary school. I knew he was an energetic kid, but when his behavior started to fall behind his Kindergarten peers, a small seed of worry began to grow. Could he have special needs? A learning disability or ADHD?

Countless attempts at discipline, setting consequences, and rewards without improvement left me feeling defeated. Reassuring the school principal we were handling the situation became harder the following year as the reports kept coming home: Has difficulty focusing. Is a distraction to his classmates. Cannot complete assignments. I dreaded answering the phone when the school called. What if they ask him to withdraw?

Before I knew it, that seed of worry had grown into full blown momma anxiety. I felt ill-equipped to handle the mental strain and emotional stress of a child with academic and emotional delay. 

I needed a plan to fight the fret. Tummy butterflies, shaking hands, and trouble breathing became physical manifestations of a spiritual lack of trust and I simply couldn’t live like that. One night, I went into my son’s room after he fell asleep and knelt beside his bed. I laid my hands on him and began to pray for guidance. 

Psalm 91 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, but in the shadows of my son’s dimly lit room, I experienced the comfort of being covered by the Lord’s wings. Verse 4 says, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. I found refuge in remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. I knew He was in control and would guide me through the ups and downs of this journey.

As I reread Psalm 91 in its entirety, my anxiety fizzled out as the words became relevant to my circumstances: 

  • God will protect my son. (v. 4) 
  • I have no reason to fear what will happen. (v.5) 
  • This process will not bring harm or disaster to our family. (v. 10) 
  • When I call on Him, He will answer me. He will be with me every step of the way. (v. 15)

Perhaps you understand how the weight of parenting can lay heavy on a momma’s heart. But that’s why prayer is the most powerful tool we have. Consistently going to God lessens anxiety; as our knees wear out the carpet, God lifts our burdens. He protects our children more effectively than we ever could. Let’s put our trust in Him.

Is God Listening?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12a

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve let them venture out on their own while at a local playground. Although I no longer need to be right next to them, following their every move, I pay attention from a distance. I keep track of their whereabouts and I’m within earshot if they need something.

Moms have a special way of knowing which screaming kid is their’s. There could be fifty littles running around but they have distinct, individual voices that their moms recognize. Their cry is unique and moms are so familiar with the sound that we are able to filter through all the others as negative noise.

I Peter 3:12 makes me wonder if God responds to us in a similar way. Millions of voices cry out to Him on a daily basis, yet He knows just which ones belong to Him. Peter is reminding the listeners of Psalm 34:15, which says, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry. God keeps tabs on His children and responds to our needs.

What comfort it is to know that God is attentive to our prayers. The Greek word used is eis, which means “entered into”. God does more than listen, He enters into our prayers. He engages with us. He wants to hear our worship, our praise, our concerns and requests. All because He cares about us. He leans in and pays attention just as a loving mom attends to her children.

If you’re struggling with believing God hears you, be encouraged today that He does. Allow this truth to seep into your soul: He knows your voice. He welcomes your prayers. He loves you.

I Know He Can, But Will He?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:2

Trusting God feels like an impossible feat sometimes. I believe God can do anything, but I get stuck at will He. The Bible is full of convincing evidence of God’s ability to perform miracles, but what about those times when He doesn’t?

I wonder if Sarah felt that way when she learned God would grant Abraham a son. Did she think, “I know God can use me, but will He?” For many years, she was unable to conceive. Doubt prompted her to give her slave, Hagar, to Abraham and she bore him a son.

Perhaps you’ve been praying for a child but it hasn’t happened yet. You know God can perform a miracle in your womb, but will He? Does He need the assistance of IVF technology? Or maybe you’ve been longing for a husband with little prospects on the horizon. You believe God can bring Mr. Right at any moment, but will He? Maybe the date you went on with Mr. Average was better than no date at all?

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are so strong that we can’t believe they aren’t from God. Like Sarah, we step in, take control, and make things happen according to our plans rather than God’s. We walk a fine line between honoring God and playing god.

When we think, but will He?, what we’re really asking is, God, will you do what I’m asking you to do? Will you answer this prayer the way I think is best? But when we start to believe we know better than God, we are no longer trusting in Him.

Psalm 31:14 says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” The Hebrew word for trust here is batach, which means secure and confident but also careless and complacent. When we trust in the Lord, we are assured that His plan is the best plan. We aren’t negligent in how we live, but rather release the reigns of control, sit back, and watch God meet our needs. Actively trusting God means passively depending on ourselves. We boldly put faith in Him to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14) God will always satisfy His will. In other words, God exists to fulfill His wishes and desires in your life and in the life of others. His will for Abraham was to have a son with Sarah. God’s will for Sarah was to be the mother of nations; for kings to come from her (Genesis 17:16). And that’s exactly what happened. At the ripe old age of 90, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. (Genesis 21:2)

It can be very challenging to trust God is in control when it feels like He isn’t. When I wonder if He will answer my prayers, I take a step back and remind myself that whatever He has planned is better than what I could put together. Whatever happens, I can trust that He is actively accomplishing His perfectly divine will for my life. Do you believe He is doing the same for you?

Childlike Forgiveness

Have you ever seen children peacefully playing together, sharing, and taking turns? Perhaps for a short time, but more commonly, they snatch, bicker, and frequently yell, “mine!” Sharing may not be a child’s strong suit, but they seem to do pretty well with forgiveness. They could be fighting and biting one minute, then hugging and holding hands as they trot back to the sand box as if nothing ever happened.

What makes it so difficult for adults to forgive in the same way? Often, our first instinct is to hold a grudge against someone who has offended us. We are quick to judge their motives and protect ourselves from being mistreated or embarrassed. We forget that just this morning we needed to ask forgiveness from someone else.

As we age, the experiences of life create wounds and as a result, we develop insecurities or push down unwanted negative emotions. We acquire sensitive areas representing these wounds in various stages of healing. When we are hurt by someone else’s words or actions, these sensitive areas are pressed and it doesn’t feel good. We react in defense rather than respond with forgiveness.

Children, however, haven’t accumulated a bank of negative experiences and live under the bliss of short term memory loss. They are wired to live in the moment, quickly moving between emotional responses. They have the ability to forgive and forget.

Childlike forgiveness is what God offers to us and how He desires we forgive others. In fact, it is such an integral part of our walk with Him that He included it in the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greek word used for forgive is aphiémi which means to send away, let go, release. Imagine our sins to be like a balloon filled with helium. As we confess them to God, we are letting go and He simply watches them float by. He does not snatch them up, adding them to the millions of balloons we’ve confessed over the years. No, He sends them away. He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

So why, then, do we hold on to the sins of others against us? When we do, we position ourselves above God as judge, deeming it our responsibility to keep track of their balloons. Inevitably, our balloons mingle with theirs making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two. We cannot expect to openly receive forgiveness from God with our hands tightly gripping a bundle of balloon strings.

But who are the debtors we need to forgive? A debtor is someone who sins against us or withholds the love and respect owed to us. We often view forgiveness as a willingness to accept the sin itself. This is difficult because we want heinous offenses to be unforgivable. We want our pain validated.

Alternatively, what if we could shift our focus from the act of sin to the lack of respect or love we have received as a result? Choosing to forgive what we have been deprived of rather than the offense itself can revolutionize how we forgive. Because our ultimate need for love and respect comes from Christ and not from other humans, we experience the freedom to let go of what has been done to us and receive healing from God.

We are not responsible for how we are treated, but we are responsible for how we respond. We need the forgiveness of God as Matthew 6:14-15 says For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Forgiving frees us from the bondage of grudges and clears our slate with God.

Are you clinging to a handful of balloons? Whether they are your unconfessed sins or the sins of others against you, open your hands and release them all. Consider forgiveness through the lens of a child. To truly forgive means to truly forget, as if the offense never happened.

Just Keep Sowing

Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Mark 4:27

Do you ever wonder if the good you’re trying to do really makes a difference? Take parenting, for instance. There are times when it seems my children will never learn to treat each other with kindness, or to patiently wait their turn, or to truly know how much God loves them. I can’t help but feel like a broken record playing among deaf ears.

We can get so caught up in how our children are responding to our direction that we gauge our success as a parent on their behavior. If our words and actions are producing fruit within them, then we must be doing the right thing. But what if it’s not? Or not within the timeline of what we expect?

One of my sons has a difficult time with emotional regulation and despite my best efforts to remain calm, I often loose my cool with him. I can’t help but think, if I could just manage him better, he would make progress.

Thankfully, God never intended us to be in control of another person’s behavior. While reading Mark 4 recently, I found an explanation of what He does intend for us:

“A man scatters seed on the ground… As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (v. 26,29)

Our job is to scatter the seed on prepared soil – to plant buds of faith in our children. To prepare their hearts to receive God’s love, and to spark an interest in knowing Him personally.

In verses 27-28, we learn that part of the harvesting process is out of our hands:

“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, thought he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”


When we think of the life of a farmer, a great deal of work is done on the front end, but there is no way to predict the outcome. He does not control the amount of rain that falls or the amount of time the sun shines. He does not control the air temperature or the bugs and birds that attempt feast on his crop. He does the best he can to prepare the soil and plant the seeds; the rest is left to God.

Just like a farmer, we are responsible for preparing our children’s hearts and scattering seeds of faith. We can do this my reminding them daily that God loves them and that He created them just the way he wanted them to be. We can model the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. We can present the stories of the Bible as exciting and relevant to our lives today.

But how these seeds grow and develop is up to God. No amount of stress or worry will change the outcome – only prayer can do that. There will be seasons where our children make great strides and bear the fruit of growth. There will be seasons where no crops are evident. Seasons of rain, seasons of drought, seasons of warmth, and seasons of frigid blizzards. Through it all, if we just keep sowing God’s truth into our little ones, we can trust that He will be faithful to complete a good work in them.

Be encouraged today that your efforts for good are not in vain. They do make a difference, here on earth and in the heavenly realms. And as Dory might say, “Just keep sowing, just keep sowing.”

Are You Wrestling With God?

Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Job 22:21

This past weekend my sons competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), a martial art focused on ground hand-to-hand combat. Points can be earned by executing specific techniques of take-down and control, but the ultimate goal is to win by submission through joint locks and chokeholds. Elementary-aged children aggressively compete under the supervision of a referee and coaches. It is intense and exciting to say the least!

In BJJ, a submission is fought for. There is strategy, skill, and strength involved. Force is used against an opponent who is desperately trying to avoid loosing. All it takes is one move and the match will be over.

With God, submission is the opposite. He will not wrestle us into compliance. It does not take strength, skill, or strategy to surrender to the will of God. And rather than a singular burst, God desires a willing heart, dedicated to following Him daily.

This is what Eliphaz was referring to in Job 22. In the midst of great loss, Job was looking for understanding as to why God allowed him to continue suffering. His friends erroneously thought Job was the cause, that somehow he was not right with God. If Job would just willingly submit to God, the wrongs would be righted and he would experience the Lord’s blessing again.

Ironically, Job was a strong example of a man postured under the will of God. Chapter one tells us Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. Satan set out to shatter his faith by destroying his family, servants, and livestock. Job was stripped of everything all at once and yet he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:22)

How many of us can honestly say the same? Personally, I’m quick to question God’s plan when life gets rough. My trust in Him weakens. I am less willing to submit my heart to Him when difficult circumstances arise – I find myself wresting against God rather than surrendering to Him.

Job 22:21 reminds me to “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” The Hebrew word for submit used here is cakan, which means “to be of use or service”. Submitting to God means we yield our will to the Father, allowing Him to use us as He sees fit. Be at peace with Him is described by the term shalam which means “to be complete”. Therefore, we are complete in the Lord when we surrender our hearts and minds to His leading.

May we never forget the way Jesus demonstrated a willingly compliant spirit by praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Is there something God is calling you into but you are resisting? Perhaps you’re wrestling with God to see prayers answered the way you want them answered. Be encouraged that He is trustworthy. He can handle whatever life is throwing at you. It may feel scary to leave the familiar, to walk away from routine, or to step out in faith; God will be with you every step of the way, coaching you to victory in Him.

**Personal side note: currently, my goal is to post to my blog weekly on Mondays, preferably in the mornings. After a busy weekend of family birthdays, it just wasn’t going to happen.

When I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about this week, He gave me the word submit. But rather than “submitting” immediately, I thought it would be more efficient to complete a work of writing I had already begun rather than starting from scratch.

So I sat in Starbucks this morning, desperately trying to complete something worth reading. Nothing. My mind was completely blank. Finally, after 30 minutes of writer’s block, I gave in. I began writing this post and the Lord poured the words through my fingers onto the screen. He was teaching me the very lesson I hoped to encourage others with – submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog! xoxo

At the Intersection of Chaos and Calm

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

 

Do you ever have trouble sleeping?

This is unusual for me as I am chronically fatigued from the mental and physical demand of raising three young, energetic boys. Our days are filled with curiosity, conflict, and craziness. Needless to say, bedtime is an event I look forward to daily. 

I typically fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. But recently, I cant seem to get my brain to turn off. I think about all the mistakes I made that day, all the conversations I could have handled better. I wonder if Im following Gods plan for my life. Insecurity about my mothering skills, anxiety about the future, and feelings of loneliness steal my peaceful dreaming. 

If only I could calm the chaos and get some rest, I think as the moments tick by. Have you ever felt that way?

The network of our minds is similar to that of a carefully designed map of a large, heavily populated city. Thoughts travel the highways and byways like lightning fast race cars, and if we let them, they will overtake our ability to live a healthy life. The overwhelming thoughts I was having were an indication I had gone too far without a break. Rather than heeding the caution of yellow stop lights, Id rush through the intersection full speed ahead. But taking breaks are crucial to our well-being and we have Jesus example as proof.

In Luke 5, we find Jesus beginning His ministry. He has been baptized by John, tempted by Satan, and called the disciples. Now, He is performing miracles. While in one of the towns, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking for healing. Jesus heals the man and orders him, Dont tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. 

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. (Luke 5:14-15 NIV)

Can you imagine? Crowds of people came to hear Jesus preach and ask for healing. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people followed after Him. I think its Jesus can relate to feeling overwhelmed. He understands what it feels like to be in high demand. And He knows what it takes to maintain calm amidst the chaos as the next verse explains. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

From the beginning, Jesus carefully and diligently set aside the duties of ministry to commune with the Lord. I dont know about you, but I have a tendency to recognize my need for rest well after I am exhausted. For Jesus, solitary moments with His Heavenly Father were a necessity. They provided the energy needed to continue preaching and healing. In those moments, Jesus was refueled and recharged. 

We are unable to control the amount of chaos we face, but we can control how we respond. At the intersection of chaos and calm, we find Jesus. There, the craziness of life meets order. Anxiety meets peace. Fear meets courage. Insecurity meets confidence. Jesus is waiting for our daily visit and as our key verse mentions, His presence will go with us, and He will give us rest. 

If youre feeling overrun by your thoughts today, find hope in the promise of peace Christ offers – From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding. May we be mindful of our tendency to press through fatigue as You teach us to purposefully pursue time with You as Jesus did. Restore our hearts, minds, and souls, equipping us to be used by You.

Amen

Enduring Friction

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Is it really possible to prevent our hearts from hurting?

Being rejected is a difficult pill to swallow. In most cases, it leaves that weird sensation of having something stuck in our throat. Each time we swallow, it’s there, reminding us of the sting only rejection leaves.

Truthfully, I’m new to this whole rejection thing. Not that I haven’t had my share, but in the past I would bend over backwards to avoid offending others and would jump at the opportunity to make it right. I simply couldn’t just sit in the muck of unresolved conflict. But in the past few years, the Lord is teaching me that a little friction here and there can be healthy, although it certainly isn’t pleasant.

Thankfully, we have a Father who understands what it feels like. Isaiah 53:3 says, He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. And yet, it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer. (v.10) 

The rejection Jesus faced wasn’t pleasant either. I’m sure He’d much rather have been welcomed with open arms into every city He went. He would have enjoyed the Pharisees recognizing Him for the long awaited Messiah He was. It would have felt good to be accepted as King of the Jews.

But if that had been the case, how well would He relate to us? Not very much, I’m afraid. His suffering by rejection served a purpose – to empathize with the hurt we feel at times. We know He can identify with our suffering. He’s familiar with the dull ache hitting the pit of our stomach when we hear…

…you’re not good enough.

…you’re a failure.

…you’re nothing special.

He understands what it’s like to reject those lies by replacing them with the truth of God’s Word:

I am worthy. (Psalm 139:13-15)

I am valuable. (Matthew 6:26)

I am precious. (Isaiah 43:4)

Jesus silenced the critics with scripture. He knew that conflict was par for the course in His journey, and it is for ours as well. John 16:33 says, In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. We can expect to experience rejection, pain, and difficulties. But we call also expect to be loved, accepted, and comforted by the God of the Universe. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

The answer to the question above is no – it’s not possible to prevent hurting hearts. Relationships will go through rough spots, harsh words will be said, and poor choices will be made. But the good news is, just like ointment relieves rug burns, God’s love is a soothing balm for the heart enduring friction.

Lord, thank you for Your Word that reminds me that I will have trouble in this world from time to time but that You have overcome it all. I can find peace in knowing You understand what it feels like to endure hardships and will give me the strength to do the same.

When You’re Just Not Feeling It

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

She gazed into her hot coffee, cupping the mug with her hands.

“I’m just not feelin’ it”, she said.

I could sense my friend’s discouragement. Years of struggling in marriage and motherhood left her disenchanted and lacking in the faith department. Once regular church-goers, she and her husband had decided to “take a break”.

“I don’t feel anything if I go to church. I don’t feel anything if I don’t go to church. I don’t feel any different in my daily life, so I don’t really see the point.”

My heart ached at her confession. I wanted to shake her shoulders and tell her to get it together; to somehow convince her that she was wrong – that having Christ in her life did make a difference. It made all the difference.

She knew why she should go to church; she had grown up in a Christian family and had walked closely with the Lord as a young adult. Somewhere along the way of marriage infidelity, multiple miscarriages, and a family member’s suicide, her head had disconnected itself from her heart. She could no longer justify doing something she felt no emotional connection to.

Because God has wired us to have an emotional relationship with Him, it is understandable how this separation occurred. I have certainly had times in my life where I knew I needed to do something I wasn’t feeling an emotional desire to do.

After leaving the coffee shop that morning, I wanted to pray for my friend. Feeling there was no way I would be able to convince her with my words, perhaps the Lord could. She needed to know how much God loved her even in the darkest of times in life. She need to know that choosing obedience is always worth it – even when we’re not feeling it.

The Lord reminded me of an example of someone who wasn’t feeling it, either. Luke 22 portrays the account of Jesus going to the Mount of Olives to pray as He did many times during His earthly stay. He had his disciples with him and He knew the end was near. This was the night He was to be betrayed, arrested, and ultimately crucified.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” v42

Can you imagine His angst about being sacrificed for the sins of all mankind? I’m guessing He wasn’t really feeling like being flogged, His flesh ripping off His bones. He probably wasn’t feeling like having nails hammered into His hands and feet. Or dying in the most torturous manner – crucifixion. Sure, He and God had agreed it was necessary to save the people, but really? Like this? Could there be any other way, He pleaded.

An angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He remained in anguish and prayed more earnestly. So much so that His pores sweated blood. I don’t know about you, but I have never been stressed to the point of sweating blood. Jesus was. He knew the suffering He was about to endure. He was not looking forward to it. He triple-checked with God to be absolutely sure there was no other way.

“Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Emotion was overtaken by devotion. He chose obedience. By allowing the soldiers to arrest Him and nail Him to the cross without a fight, He honored the commitment He made to His Father. And after hours of physical suffering and emotional ridicule, he lacked the strength to inhale another breath. He gave up His Spirit to death. Christ didn’t need to feel like being obedient in order to do so. And neither do we.

Emotions come and go like the waves of the ocean; the value of salvation will never change. May thankfulness overwhelm our hearts into obedience when we go through times when we’re just not feeling it.

Lord, thank you for the amazing sacrifice Jesus made for us. May we never take for granted the strength and discipline it took for Him to give H
is life as we allow gratitude to motivate obedience.
Amen

Hopeful Forgetfulness

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 43:18-19

 

The New Year is upon us and resolutions are the talk of social media, friends and family, and the work-place. Diet and exercise alterations are mentioned most commonly. We are hopeful this will be the year of (fill in the blank)… change… finding a spouse… graduation… career advancement… the birth of children… Each new year brings promises of hope.

Isaiah 43:19 is a verse frequently quoted as a reminder of the hope we have in what the Lord is doing – 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. We may not always understand what He is doing. It may be within our hearts. It may be within our family. Our occupation. It may be something we believe is impossible. But just as a seed develops and grows roots before it is visible above the soil, the Lord is working even when we cannot see it.

I find great comfort and hope in knowing the Lord is always doing something on my behalf. Recently, I read the three verses preceding verse 19 and was struck by the personal relevance:

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (V 16-18)

In Isaiah 43, the Israelites are reminded of what the Lord has done – He made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, drew out the chariots and horses, never to rise again. The Lord performed miracle after unexpected miracle to free His people from captivity in Egypt. He wants them to remember what has been done, but not to doubt the Lord’s ability to surpass previous miracles performed. He doesn’t want them to dwell on the past as if those were the “good ole days”; that God could not bring victory to them as He had in the past; that their circumstances were now far more dire than before.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. I personally find this very difficult to do. History has a way of repeating itself and the phrase, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” embodies the idea that we must learn from past mistakes and successes in order to progress. But for me, it held me back.

For many years, I perceived shame and condemnation when I opened up about my past regrets and mistakes. It was a horrible feeling, one I wanted to avoid at all costs. So, I learned to hide the parts of my life I thought were less than “Christian” and put on a facade of perfection to the best of my ability.

As you can probably imagine, that didn’t work out very well nor last very long. The Lord taught me the importance of being honest and transparent for the sake of my testimony, rather than receiving the approval of man. Hiding my sin and erroneous choices limited my ability to empathize and witness to others in similar circumstances. Forgetting the former things and not dwelling on the past was exactly what I needed to do in order to progress. Because He is doing something new and I want to perceive it to the best of my ability. Clearing my memory of what has already transpired allows me to become increasingly mindful of what He is doing in the present.

We can also be encouraged that history will not always repeat itself. Although the Lord delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians by a miraculous and unforeseen exodus, He delivered the Israelites again from the Babylonians by destroying Babylon, paving the way for His people. He may not do what we expect from past experiences, but we can be assured that His promises are always true. What He says will happen, will happen – in His time and in His way.

I’m excited for what 2018 will bring in my life and the life of others. Do you perceive a growth of new beginnings too?