Updated: Aug 13, 2022
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” If you’re leaving behind a place or a way you once were, or perhaps if you’re transitioning into new beginnings, leaving your comfort zone for what seems like uncertainty goes against all logic. As a person who is also in transition, I’ve found myself feeling like my comfort zone began to make less sense to me, and God was telling me that this comfort zone had become more like a fortress in which I protect my old habits and ways of thinking from change. Like a growing vine, everything in our minds and bodies tells us to keep growing in the same patterns. Life begins to move on a sort of muscle memory, and we use similar coping mechanisms. We fall for the same tricks of the devil, constantly replay past mistakes, and let them set the tone for tomorrow’s decisions. When I began studying the book of Isaiah, I noticed three distinct themes:
· The condemnation of sin
· The past ways of the people of Israel, entering transition periods
· What God is telling us about new beginnings. I immediately wanted to avoid the whole condemnation part and protect any part of me that might feel convicted. As soon as I realized I was not who I wanted to be or needed to change, I didn’t like to acknowledge the painful truth of my mistakes. The easier thing would have been to ignore this part of Isaiah where God sees how the people of Israel lived before they began to transition. I wanted to focus on other aspects of transitioning with an encouraging message, taking comfort in anecdotes such as “it’s all about the journey, not the destination” or “trust the process.” In my place of transition, I’ve been encouraged to live in the present, using the time to rest or find some form of newfound strength for the next chapter. This advice helped initially, but I felt more stagnant rather than at peace. How can I work on being a new person if I ignore the person I once was or where I have been? How do I move forward if I can’t leave my past mistakes behind? A bigger question might be, “is God asking us to do this?”. In a world where we are encouraged to trust the process and “be still,” could the Lord be calling on us to do some soul searching? How important is the person we used to be in our journey to be made new? In that place of transition, how important is our perception of the past and the future to God? These are the questions that guide me through the first part of Isaiah. Isaiah 6:1-2 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him Instead of protecting those parts of my past that convict me, the book of Isaiah taught me that they are essential to my redemption. I’ve come to understand it is important to surrender our past to Him as it is to submit our present and future. I felt God wanting to work through my past in ways that help me to forgive and understand the person I have been rather than just cocoon the past in my heart. God told me not to protect and coddle my mistakes in shame, guilt, and pride. The more I force down the past mistakes rather than humbling myself before God, the more they sabotage me from learning and living past those mistakes.
When I use God’s Word to understand my past, I see that there is still a story to be told. God shows me how He has protected me and truly brought me far enough that I have the privilege of being able to still learn from my mistakes. I don’t have to be that person who makes excuses for them anymore. I’m learning to accept that God can and will change the narratives of my past and can still use the worst of my mistakes to create the best in me, but it can only come from genuinely surrendering who we once were to Him. It comes from understanding that God was never surprised and always had a plan for us, knowing every mistake we would make. It comes from allowing Him to show you new and healthy ways to love yourself, forgive yourself, and let His word lead you as you work through your past rather than putting as much distance between you and God as possible. With so much pressure from the world judging and defining us by what they see, we can become obsessed with who we have been (in that job, in that relationship, to ourselves, etc.) and who we want to be. We miss how God still uses our mistakes to transform us into that new person. He gives us a chance to commit people, trauma, habits, and our memories to Him rather than suppressing and ignoring the past.
If you’re running away from something today, if you’re running towards a new chapter, or if you feel as if you’re tired of running and you’re just floating through space waiting for a sign, I encourage you to seek the Lord concerning your past, present, and future. I encourage you to have patience, surround yourself with a healthy support system, and consider how God is making your mistakes, your uncertainties, and the parts of yourself you perceive as a weakness into something new in your life. JM
Isaiah 40:27-31 27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.