I LOVE January! Besides being my birthday month, (which tends to perk up the dreariest month of the year), it is a time of dreaming and re-imagining for my life. Like many of us, for me, it symbolizes a fresh start and a clean page… with no mistakes. Yet.

Did you know that God loves fresh starts too?

In Isaiah 43:18-19, Isaiah (speaking for God) says,

 

“But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.

For I am about to do something new.

    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

 

Isaiah wrote these words at a time when Israel was in captivity in Babylon. The Israelites had made some bad choices (again) and I imagine them sitting in a foreign country feeling discouraged, maybe even thinking that God had given up on them.

 

Through this prophecy, God says, “Listen… that stuff that happened, that was in the past… but this, this is now!” Essentially, God points Israel to hope, explaining that they were getting a fresh start. It was like God was taking them by the shoulders, shaking them a bit, saying “don’t get stuck here in captivity… this cannot be your focus… this is not who you are… I am doing something new!”

 

It is so easy to get stuck.

 

In my early 30’s I went through a “serious-ish” depression. (Is that an actual clinical term? I am quite sure it is.) I had essentially burned myself out trying to accomplish “great things for God.” I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that I was focused on doing things for God, instead of pursuing intimacy with Him. It was a very difficult time for me and I felt like I had been put in the penalty box. I was sure that God could no longer use me. I couldn’t be trusted. My proverbial ship had sailed and I got stuck there… for a few years.

 

Have you ever been there?

 

Are you there now?

 

Are you discouraged because a long-held dream seems to be elusive? Have you had a failure that you just aren’t sure you can recover from?

 

Here is the thing: Holding on to the past keeps us from moving forward.

 

The “God of the fresh starts” is coming towards you TODAY. Today he is saying to you, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”

 

Do you see it?

 

It is difficult to see God at work in us when we are discouraged. But just like germination happens in the dark, in the quiet, God is doing new things within you and preparing you for a season of great fruitfulness. There is something fresh on the way and all we need to do is stay in step with the Spirit and pray to see where He is at work in and through us.

 

This is a posture of faith and anticipation! Can you see it?

 

The path to freedom for the Israelites required crossing hundreds of miles of wilderness. Anticipating this journey God said:

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

 

What a promise! If you are anything like me, when I am in the wilderness, I see nothing but DIRT. I see the obstacles. I see why this could never happen. But God is clear when He says “I will make a pathway.” All we need to do is follow his leading as he removes the obstacles and opens a path before us.

 

So in this season of a fresh start and a clean page, with no mistakes (yet), we have a choice. Will we remain stuck in the past or will we look to the future with great faith as we embrace “the God of the Fresh Starts?”

 

Lord, I come to you at the beginning of a New Year. Thank you that you are the God of the Fresh Starts. Open my eyes to see you at work in my life. I want to see it. With faith I look for the pathway through the wilderness. I look for the rivers that will appear in the dry wasteland. You have created me for purpose and promise and I walk forward today in faith towards you and your purposes.

Amen.

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